Location: Sugarcane ResearchTitle: Mechanical planter update: 2007 Bayou Teche test plant cane results Author
Submitted to: Sugar Bulletin
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/2/2009
Publication Date: 7/15/2009
Citation: Waguespack, H., Jackson, W., Blackwelder, N., Viator, R.P., Salassi, M. 2009. Mechanical planter update: 2007 Bayou Teche test plant cane results. Sugar Bulletin. 87(10):33-35. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Mechanization of cane planting has been somewhat limited, due to the fact that the entire 4-5 ft stalk must be planted horizontally in the seedbed. Several modifications were made to mechanical planters by a grower cooperator. To test the modifications, a replicated field trial was planted on August 25, 2007 in cooperation with Domingue’s Farms, Erath, LA using HoCP 96-540. Five replications of three different planter modifications were compared to a hand-planted control treatment. The unmodified planter was a standard 8 ft. x 28 ft. front-end, drum planter with slats on the floor. As the name of the treatment implies, no modifications were done to this planter. The partially modified planter was an 8 ft. x 24 ft. front-end, drum planter with slats on the floor. This planter was raised 10 inches and the discharge chute was changed to help direct cane into the furrow. The modified planter had four major changes that included: (1) raising the entire planter 10 inches to allow for better seed cane placement and to help alleviate tall seed cane getting caught or bending before being placed in the row; (2) extending the discharge chute to help direct the cane into the furrow; (3) installing a 5-foot diameter, open-drum, to replace the smaller 4-foot diameter closed-drum on the planter; (4) installing a rubber belt with raised cleats to replace the metal slats along the bottom of the planter floor allowing the drum to be closer to the planter floor. The unmodified planter and the partially modified planter used 3.1 and 3.9 tons (respectively) more seed cane per acre than the hand planted rate of three stalks with a 10% overlap. The modified planter used 1 ton more than the hand planted rate in this test. The mechanical planters completed their task approximately 3 times faster than the hand planter with substantially less labor. The modified planter yielded significantly more than the unmodified planter and hand planter treatments, but not significantly different from the partially modified planter. The economic analysis compared the mechanical planter treatments to the hand planted control. The revenue generated by the plant-cane yield was considered as well as the combined planting costs. While each mechanical planter treatment generated more revenue than the hand planted control treatment, the unmodified and partially modified treatments did not generate enough revenue to offset the extra planting expenses incurred with the higher seeding rates. The partially modified planter yielded 1.6 tons more and the unmodified planter yielded 0.6 tons more than the hand planted control. The modified planter yielded 2 tons more than the hand planted treatment and generated the most net revenue in the plant-cane crop. As labor becomes more difficult to obtain and more costly and as planting windows narrow, growers would be wise to invest in modified mechanical planters.