Comparison of options for sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) stool destruction
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Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) production is customarily from a plant crop followed by two or more ratoon crops, which are grown from the underground stubble called the sugarcane stool. Frequently, the stool has to be ploughed out when the yield of a ratoon crop falls below acceptable levels, or as a control measure for sugarcane diseases. Sugarcane stool destruction with conventional land preparation equipment has proved to be ineffective, especially in high-rainfall areas. Methods for killing the stools have either been too expensive or keep the land unproductive for an uneconomical period of time. More efficient and cheaper mechanical systems for stool destruction are therefore needed. This study was a comparison of four methods that could be used for stool destruction. The soils on the experimental site were a combination of Dystric Cambisols and Humic Acrisols in the petroferric phase. Three of the methods compared have traditionally been used at a leading sugarcane estate in Kenya, whereas the fourth utilizes a new implement that was developed with the objective of improving efficiency of the operation. Factors thought likely to influence individual methods are discussed. It is concluded that the new implement has potential as a device for sugarcane stool destruction under conditions of rainfed production. It is suggested that the shortest time period allowed between stool destruction and subsequent land preparation operations should be between 4 and 5 weeks.