Workshops 2000-2001

Back to workshops page
4th ISSCT Entomology workshop, 7-10 February, 2000, Khon Kaen, Thailand

FEBRUARY 7-10, 2000
P. Allsopp, Chairman, ISSCT Entomology Section

The meeting was hosted by the National Biological Research Center and Khon Kaen University with support from the ISSCT. The organizing committee was chaired by Dr Banpot Napompeth, with Wiwat Suasa-ard, Kosol Charernsom, Kasem Sooksathan, Vichai Korpraditskul, Pornthip Wisarath, Phulprasert Piya-anant, Nutcharee Siri and Suparb Ourwongkul as members. Peter Allsopp chaired the meeting. It was attended by some 30 delegates from Australia, Egypt, Jamaica, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Réunion, South Africa, Thailand and USA.

The President of Khon Kaen University, Associate Professor Prinya Chindaprasirt, officially presented the welcoming address to the workshop and Dr Manochai Keerati-kasikorn, Head of the Department of Entomology, Khon Kaen University, gave the closing speech. Well-known Thai Sugar Cane Technologist and fomer ISSCT Executive, Dr Kasem Sooksathan gave the keynote address on the cane and sugar industry of Thailand.


A total of 12 verbal and 4 poster presentations were made under seven session topics. Extended time was given under four discussion topics for wide-ranging interchange of experience and ideas.

The papers and posters presented are given. E-mail addresses of authors are indicated, for eventual contact for further information.

Biological control of sugarcane borers
Biological control of sugarcane pests in Mauritius: current status and future prospects
S Ganeshan, Mauritius (

Chilo tumidicostalis (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), and its natural enemies in Thailand
W Suasa-ard, Thailand (

Sugarcane moth borers and their parasites in Thailand
W Suasa-ard et al., Thailand (

Mass rearing of Cotesia flavipes (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)
W Suasa-ard and J Permniyomkit, Thailand (

Chemical and host-plant resistance for control of borers
Approaches to the use of insecticides against the sugarcane borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidioptera: Pyralidae)
G Leslie, South Africa (

Stalk borer bioassay studies: a literature review and a report of studies conducted in Louisiana
W White, USA (

Integrated control of borers
Management of the sugarcane borer, Sesamia grisescens Warren (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), in Papua New Guinea
L Kuniata, Papua New Guinea (

Integrated protection of sugarcane in Reunion; the case of Chilo sacchariphagus Boj. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), a stem borer
R Goebel, Réunion (

Transgenic sugarcane with increased resistance to canegrubs
P Allsopp, Australia (

Evaluation of transgenic sugarcane against stalk borers
J Legaspi, USA (

Biological control of sucking insects
Parasitoids attacking Saccharicoccus sacchari (Homoptera: Pseudococcidae) on sugarcane in Egypt
S Abd-Rabou, Egypt (

The yellow sugarcane aphid, Sipha flava (Homoptera: Aphididae), and the ladybeetle Diomis terminatus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in Florida
D Hall, USA (

Parasite complex of sugarcane whitefly, Aleurolobus barodensis Maskell (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), in Thailand
K Charernsom, Thailand (

Economic injury levels
Economic injury level for adult froghoppers, Aeneolamia spp. (Homoptera: Cercopidae), in sugarcane in Guatemala
V Salguero, Guatemala ( (presented by W White)

Pest fauna and incursion management
Development of a Pest Risk Analysis and Pest Incursion Management Plan for the Australian industry
P Allsopp, Australia (

Insect pests of sugarcane in Thailand
K Charernsom et al., Thailand (

Discussion sessions and chairmen were:

Host-plant resistance – W White
Pest management strategies for sugarcane borers – G Leslie
Pest management strategies for sugarcane grubs – P Allsopp
Pest Management strategies for sugarcane sucking insects – S Ganeshan
General discussion on the future of Entomology within ISSCT – P Allsopp

Conclusions and Technical Report

The workshop concluded that there were three areas in which collaborative work could make progress: screening material for host-plant resistance to different borers; preparation of dossiers on the main pests of sugarcane; and, development of training and skill-acquisition during the next workshop.

Bill White will coordinate the development of a project to allow interchange of material for testing host-plant resistance. This could be based on his current technique of using freeze-dried material; this would obviate the need to exchange living material and would be more acceptable to quarantine authorities. The first issue is to determine what material exists in each country and whether exchange of freeze-dried material would be permitted.

Peter Allsopp will coordinate the development of dossiers for pest species; this was seen as a viable alternative to a full-scale revision of the 1969 book Pests of Sugarcane. Dossiers will be based on those developed under the Australian pest Risk Analysis system described in Allsopp’s paper. The initial two actions will be the distribution of present dossiers on borers for updating by relevant entomologists and the determination of a suitable electronic system for storing, updating and distributing these dossiers.

The workshop agreed that training in new skills could be an option for the next workshop. Ideas will be canvassed and potential venues decided – part of this will be covered in an evaluation questionnaire to be distributed by Graeme Leslie. Modelling and molecular techniques were suggested at the meeting.

The Technical report is currently being edited by Peter Allsopp and Wiwat Suasa-ard and should be available in paper and electronic forms (contact Peter Allsopp at

Field tour

Visits were made to the laboratories of the National Biological Control Research Center Northeastern Regional Center at Khon Kaen University and to sugarcane plantations and a sugar mill near Udon Thani. The use of insects as human food and the sampling of dishes of mealworms, grasshoppers, longicorn larvae and other arthropods were a highlight for the non-Thais. Field experience of borer damage and the release of Cotesia parasites complemented this change of diet.

Post-workshop tour

The tour from 11-12 February was attended by most of the non-Thai delegates, as well as some of the local delegates. The first visit was to the silk industry in the Chonnabot district, another different use of insects. Overnight was in the Khao Yai National Park, where ornithologists gave the delegates a rare viewing of two species of hornbills. Visits to ruins at Prasat Hin Pimai and Ayuthaya gave a good appreciation of the antiquity and development of Thai culture to the non-Thais.

Future of Entomology in ISSCT

The group recognized the need for promotion of Entomology within ISSCT and within the global sugar community. There should be promotion of achievements, particularly to show the cutting-edge developments and the large contributions to sustainability and environmental protection flowing from better control technologies. This should form the thrust of papers to be presented at the Brisbane congress of ISSCT. Bill White will also write an article for the Sugar Journal and all participants were encouraged to contribute to their local industry journals.

VI ISSCT Sugar Cane Pathology Workshop, 17-23 JULY, 2000, CHA-AM, THAILAND

17-23 JULY, 2000



The Department of Agriculture (DOA) and Thailand Society of Sugarcane Technologists (TSSCT), extended an invitation to all ISSCT member pathologists to participate in the VIth ISSCT Pathology Workshop to discuss the latest advances in sugar cane disease investigations from field to biotechnology. The workshop allowed sugar cane pathologists to present their research and discuss ways to develop systems for “Holistic Sugar cane Plant Health Management” and observed also so many symptoms of viral, phytoplasma and other diseases including mild mosaic, white leaf, grassy shoot, green grassy shoot and Yellow Leaf Syndrome.

The report will be published as soon as received.

ISSCT Agricultural Engineering Workshop, 23 - 28 July, 2000, Malelane, South Africa

23-28 JULY, 2000



The Agricultural Engineering Workshop of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ISSCT) was organized by SASEX, 23-28 July 2000.

(approximately 400 km east of Johannesburg and on the border of the Kruger National Park) in the Province of Mpumalanga.


The Workshop, held from 23 to 28 July 2000 in Malelane, South Africa, was organised by the Agricultural Engineering Sectional Committee of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologist’s (ISSCT). The Workshop was hosted and organised by the SASA Experiment Station.

The ISSCT Committee consisted of E Meyer, Chairman (SASEX), C. Richard (Louisiana Sugar Cane League), E Jacquin (Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute), C. Norris (Bureau of Sugar Experiment Station, Australia) and J. Scandalaris (Sociedad Argintina de Tecnicos de la Cane de Azucar, Argentina). Several local-supporting committees also assisted in organising this event. The Agricultural Engineering Workshops are held every two to three years between ISSCT Congresses and this was the first time that it was held in South Africa. 


delegat.gif (173346 bytes)
Workshop delegates
(Photograph courtesy: Sugar Journal, Louisiana)

A total of eighty participants from 15 countries attended the Workshop. South Africa was well represented with 31 delegates while 24 delegates came from seven other African countries.

The formal Workshop proceedings began on Monday 24 July with an official opening by Mr. Tim Murray, President of South African Sugar Technologist’s’ Association (SASTA). Mr Murray gave an overview of the SA sugar industry and the role that the SA Sugar Association plays in the industry. The opening address was followed by that of Dr W. Bekker, Managing Director of Transvaal Sugar Limited, who gave an overview of the Nkomazi/Onderberg sugarcane producing region and its importance in the local sugar industry. Both addresses focused on maximising performance to remain competitive on an international basis.

Murray.gif (59317 bytes)

Mr. T. Murray, SASTA  President delivering the opening address
(Photograph courtesy: Sugar Journal, Louisiana)


Formal Sessions

The formal sessions were held at the Malelane Sun Inter-Continental hotel located on the border of the Kruger National Park. Formal paper presentation sessions were held on Monday, Thursday and Friday. Workshop topics comprised of the following:

  • Monday-24 July
    Infield loading, transport and transloading
  • Thursday-27 July
    Road, rail transport, contracting and scheduling
  • Friday-28 July
    Mill receiving facilities and general 

A total of forty papers were presented during the formal sessions; the titles and Abstracts of these papers and their authors can be consulted on this website. Each topic was introduced by a Committee member followed by presentation by the delegates with adequate time for questions and discussions. The papers were generally of a high standard with a good mixture of practical and technical papers.

Workshopping sessions:

At the end of each day’s formal sessions time was set aside for informal “Workshopping” sessions. The aim of these sessions was to give delegates the opportunity to raise issues not covered during the formal sessions or to air their views on matters raised during the day’s proceedings. These sessions were structured under the following headings:
Agronomic factors
Quality factors
Cost factors
Design factors 

It was generally agreed by the delegates that these “Workshopping” sessions were useful in that they expanded and exposed numerous issues pertaining the days’ proceedings.

Field tours

The purpose of the field trips was to expose delegates to the widest possible range of infield loading, cane transport systems and mill receiving facilities used in the South African and Swaziland Sugar Industries.

Swaziland – Tuesday 25 July
The delegates visited Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (Simunye) in the morning where they were shown mechanical and manual harvesting, infield loading, direct and indirect cane transport and transloading systems. The delegates also viewed both whole stalk and chopped cane, bin and spiller off-loading and storage facilities at the Simunye Mill.

The delegates were then taken to the Tanbankulu Estate where they were shown various irrigation methods including furrow, overhead, drip and centre pivot irrigation systems. In the afternoon the delegates visited the Mhlume Sugar Co. were they were shown manual stacking  mechanical loading of whole stalk cane and the company’s direct bin and box tractor/trailer combination transport system. At the Mhlume Mill, delegates were shown the tippler and bundle cane handling receiving and storage facilities.


tippler.gif (111129 bytes)   havest.gif (83602 bytes)
Delegates viewing the tippler system at the
Mhlume Sugar Co millyard
  Delegates viewing a combine harvester in operation
on Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation

Mpumalanga – Wednesday 26 July
The participants visited two private growers and two contracting groups operating in the Komatipoort area. During these visits alternative whole stalk and chopped cane harvesting, infield loading and direct cane transport systems were demonstrated.

After lunch the delegates visited the Komati mill. Besides viewing the cane control/weighbridge area and tippler off-loading facility they were taken into the Information Centre used for planning, monitoring and co-ordinating field to mill operations of all growers, including the 15 Small Grower Projects in the Nkomazi East area. The final stop for the day was to the Walda Small Scale Grower Project where delegates viewed the traditional mechanical loading system where the cane is loaded from manually made windrows into rigid truck/drawn trailer combination on one of the local grower’s property.

The general consensus was that the Workshop was a success. Many delegates commented on the quality of the presentations and general organisation of the Workshop. The workshop was well supported by sponsorship by the local agricultural industry. The organisers wish to thank all the sponsors for their generous contributions.

A comprehensive report on the Workshop activities will made in a form of a paper to be presented at the forthcoming ISSCT Congress to be held in Brisbane, Australia. The dates for this Congress are 16-21 September 2001.




SA Sugar Association Experiment Station, Private Bag X02, Mount Edgecombe, 4300, South Africa

Handling of both whole stalk and chopped sugarcane after harvesting varies enormously from country to country, and often within the same cane producing industry. There are numerous and logical reasons why this is so. The handling of sugarcane after harvesting is dependent on various issues including avail-ability and cost of labour, and social and political considerations. Some constraints to the implementation of mechanised systems include farm size, topography, field conditions, mill receiving facilities and economic considerations.

This paper gives an overview of the various loading, infield transport and transloading systems used in southern Africa, as well as internationally.


Mkwasine Estate, Private Bag 7012, Chiredzi, Zimbabwe

Mkwasine Estate is situated in the south-eastern Lowveld region of Zimbabwe, and is the third largest sugar estate in Zimbabwe. The Estate is a consortium jointly owned by Hippo Valley Estates Ltd, and Triangle Ltd. Both these estates are either directly or indirectly part of the Anglo American Corporation Group of Companies.

The estate covers a total of 11 500 hectares, of which 4 600 hectares are presently under sugarcane. Irrigation is by the flood method and the varieties grown are predominately NCo376 and N14, with the CP and local Zn varieties being introduced of late.

Fifty per cent of the land is inrow and the other 50% interrowed. Interrowing takes place at the first ratoon stage.

The Estate produces between 475 000 and 500 000 tonnes of cane annually, which is delivered in equal proportions to the two mills which are situated at Hippo Valley and Triangle, a distance of 55 and 65 kilometres respectively.


Ubombo Sugar Ltd, PO Box 23, Big Bend, Swaziland

The problems associated with the measurement of cane cutter productivity in the area based system of harvesting, caused by the wide yield variability within fields on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, needed to be addressed. This was carried out by reviewing various harvesting systems, with the aim of improving harvesting productivity on the steep topography of the Illovo Sugar Ltd farms in this region. From this review it was identified that, if cane cutter output could be weighed on a daily basis, productivity would improve and be better controlled. The agreed criteria, for the selection of the system for weighing cane, were that it should be accu-rate, portable, robust, of the right capacity (able to weigh roughly 300 tons of cane per day) and it should be a system which could give the required cane stack output data. The Masskot Axle Weighing system was chosen as it met the agreed criteria. This method of weighing cane has proved to be an afford-able option and its use has been successfully integrated into the infield haulage and transloading operations on the Sezela estate. Some technical details of the system and its application in the measuring of cane stack weights are discussed in this paper.


Transvaal Sugar Ltd, PO Box 47, Malelane, 1320, South Africa

The removal of cane from fields that are too wet for direct infield loading gives rise to substantial costs for the grower. The cost of handling cane in wet weather has been found to amount to approximately R24.57 or US$4.00 per ton. The extra costs involved in handling cane in wet weather reduces profitability by more than half for every ton of cane harvested. The number of days with wet weather conditions varies between 9 and 27 days in a harvesting season. The challenge of finding a more cost effective method of removing cane from the field during rainy weather still remains.


Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, P/Bag 4, Bundaberg DC, Queensland, 4670, Australia

The entire Australian sugar crop is chopper harvested and mechanically transported from the field. The transition from manual cutting and loading to wholestalk machine harves-ting and machine loading occurred in the early 1960s, with the adoption of chopper harvesting increasing from the mid-1960s to full chopper harvesting by the early 1970s.

In most mill areas, in-field haulage of billeted cane was initially comprised of tractor drawn trailers that transported 3 to 5 tonne rail bins into the field. The system, referred to as ‘roll-on roll-off’, is a low cost system requiring a conventional farm tractor and simple trailer. This system is still popular with smaller harvesting contractors. While suitable for the newer bin of up to 6 tonnes as used in some mill areas, the increasing popularity in many mill areas of larger (10 to 12 tonne) rail bins that cannot be taken into the field will render this system obsolete.

To reduce haulage costs and improve performance under adverse field conditions, while complying with the strict road transport regulations, a varied range of specialist haulout equipment has developed. Haulout designs have been developed to suit differing harves-ting conditions within the sugar producing regions. Payloads have increased, and the unloading systems have improved to significantly reduce the unloading time per tonne of cane.

Haulouts in use range from tractor/trailer combinations to rubber tyred articulated haulouts with up to three axles, to full track (steel and rubber) dedicated infield machines. This paper categorises and describes haulout vehicles used in Queensland and, using a simple load index, compares the efficiency of the various categories.


1 Estación Experimental Agroindustrial Obispo Colombres Tucumán 4101, Argentina
2 Compañía Azucarera Concepción

The sugarcane producing area of Argentina is located mainly in the Northern Provinces of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy. The raw material produced is processed by 21 sugar mills, which manufacture around 1.6 million tons of sugar, intended mainly for the domestic market.

In 1992, Salta and Jujuy had already adop-ted the combine chopper harvest system, while a partially mechanised system prevailed in Tucumán. From that year onwards, the utilisation of combine choppers in Tucumán increased steadily. At present, almost 90% of the cane producing area is harvested by combine choppers.

The three main factors involved in this expansion were the high cost of the labour force, economic facilities for technology incorporation, and the necessity to reduce production costs.

Harvest and haulage operations represent two major items in the production cost scheme and, therefore, any strategy directed towards the optimisation of these stages will significantly reflect on growers’ economy. At present in Argentina, 175 combine harvesters are used to collect the cane, of which ±14,5 million tons were milled during the 1999 season.

In the particular case of Tucumán, combine harvesters are spread on the basis of the direct loading of transport equipment, even though certain plants such as Concepción mill began to use the loading system, supported with self-dumping equipment to optimise harvest and transport operations.

This paper presents a comparative analysis of costs, and the advantages and disadvantages between using direct loading and using self-dumping equipment on different fronts.


Belle Vue Maurica Sugar Estate, Mapou, Mauritius

Belle Vue Sugar Estate is situated in the north of Mauritius where six sugar mills were in operation, crushing some 1.2 million tonnes of cane in a normal year. Dramatic reductions in areas under cane, increases in labour costs, lower sugar prices, lower sharing ratio for the miller, efficient energy production and unfavourable climatic conditions have resulted in the closing down of four mills in the north.

However, the cane weighing platforms, sampling and cane analysis equipment, and reception facilities were kept at these four mills to handle the cane of the planters, which is then transported to the other two operational mills. These platforms can be used as stocking areas during the day, with night transport to the mill. However, the maintenance and operation of the platforms, together with transport, cost the remaining mills more than US$ 1 million annually. These costs can be avoided if all the cane is transported directly from the field to the mills. However, the millers will have to pay more in excess transport since the distances to the mills will be longer.

All the cane from three closed factories is now crushed at Belle Vue mill, which has a daily capacity of 6 600 tonnes (300 TCH). A normal production of 800 000 tonnes is expected to be crushed in 120 days, the factory being coupled to a brand new power station of 70 mw capacity.

With the increased stockage capacity of 4 000 tonnes for the night at Belle Vue, it is technically possible to shut down the other three transloading platforms. The other solution is to keep one transloading station at Beau Plan, and transport the cane at night with the available transport.

The present and future situation will be explained, the net cost savings worked out, and the best solution proposed.


Ledesma Mill, Sarmieto 66, Barrio Ledesma, Province of Jujuy, 4512, Argentina

The cane fields of the Republic of Argentina are geographically located between 22° and 26° South latitude. One and a half million metric tonnes of sugar are produced annually in the country’s 23 important sugar mills. Ledesma, being the largest mill in the country, produces about 22% of the total. The Ledesma sugar mill also produces alcohol and paper, and generates surplus electricity.

Ledesma sugar mill crushes more than three million tonnes of cane in 165 days, harvested mainly from its own cane fields, which extend over some 31 000 hectares. Since 1992, the mill has made important changes in its harvesting and transport system, and currently about 87% of the cane is cut by 25 combine harvesters, using 63 self-dumping wagons pulled by tractors for infield transport and transloading. The remaining 13% is cut manually and loaded by three grab loaders.

Transporting the cane to the mill is done by contractors, who are paid on a tonnes/km basis. The contractors deliver about 18 500 tonnes of cane per day with a 75 truck fleet that travels on internal private roads.

This paper addresses harvesting and transloading schedules and their development over time, and also describes cane transport logistics from field to mill, trailer replacement systems at both ends, cane movement in the mill yard, and cane unloading. Operating results and economic returns obtained with technological developments are also presented. These developments allow very competitive costs for cane deliveries to the mill yard, as well as improvements in trash contents and reductions in delays.


SA Sugar Association Experiment Station, Private Bag X02 Mount Edgecombe, 4300, South Africa

A trial conducted by Dr BE Beater showed a reduction of 22.7% in millable cane stalks harvested at the age of 12 months due to soil compaction (Cleasby, 1964). Clay and silt contents of the soil in the trial area were 28 and 15% respectively, and compaction (by tractor and 2.5 ton trailer) increased soil bulk density from 1.30 to 1.55 Mg/m3 and decreased porosity by 10%.

Since 1964 the size of vehicles used infield has increased dramatically, so that today it is not uncommon to see 30 ton trucks extracting cane from fields. The use of these heavy vehicles has necessitated research into ways of reducing their destructive effect. This has led to the development of various wheel and axle configurations, different types of tyres, and management guidelines on how to minimise soil compaction due to infield traffic. The aim of this paper is to present a relatively simple set of equations to aid growers in their decision when not to allow infield traffic.


Unitrans Freight (Pty) Ltd: Sugar Division, PO Box 1778, Westville, 3630, South Africa

In assessing the suitability of equipment to be used for infield cane haulage it is useful to be able to make a quantitative comparison of the potential compaction effects of varying vehicle configurations, tyre fitments and tyre pressures. To this end a simple technique was developed to calculate a compaction index (CI) from readily available information. The indices of different vehicles could then be compared and used as an estimate of how much compaction damage each vehicle would impose on the soil.

The CI was based on a formula that combined or accumulated the effects of vehicle gross mass, ground pressure and tyre pressure. The parameters used to calculate the CI included gross mass, axle loadings, tyre dimensions and tyre pressures. The aforementioned parameters were easily obtainable from equipment manufacturers’ general assembly drawings and tyre manufacturers’ specification data. Once the parameters were obtained it was then relatively easy to calculate the CI for different vehicle combinations or different tyre fitments for the same vehicle combination. This paper covers the details of determining the CI and presenting it in an understandable format as well as some comparisons of CIs for typical vehicles used in the southern African sugar industries.


Copersucar Technology Center, Piracicaba-SP, CEP 13400-970, Brazil

In 1998 in Brazil, legislation was approved to completely phase out pre-harvest burning of sugarcane fields over a period of 8 to 15 years. This led swiftly to the introduction of mechanical harvesting in most sugarcane areas. The effect of intense traffic in the field was soon observed as a decrease in yields and fewer ratoons before replanting became necessary. In an attempt to minimise these problems, Copersucar initiated a series of studies related to traffic control in the field, addressing in particular row/interrow traffic and soil compaction.


1 Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, P/Bag 4, Bundaberg DC, Queensland, 4670, Australia
 Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Tully

Sugarcane is unique in large scale cropping systems of tropical crops in the magnitude of biomass that must be removed from the field during the harvesting operation. Soil com-paction and damage to the cane stool caused by harvesting and infield transport equipment can potentially have a very significant impact on the long term sustainability of the crop.

The Australian industry has been adopting designs of haulout equipment that incorporate low ground pressures, to minimise the adverse effects of traffic near the row. However, soil compaction is increasingly being seen as a major problem for the industry.

This paper reviews some of the constraints relating to placement of wheel traffic under current Australian cropping systems, and the subsequent impact of this wheel traffic on the yield of subsequent crops.


1 Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, P/Bag 4, Bundaberg DC, Queensland, 4670, Australia
2 Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Tully

While the Australian sugar industry is based on a row spacing of 1.5 m, the cane haulout and harvesting equipment used is typically designed with a wheel track width of 1.83 to 1.96 m. This allows manufacturers to optimise machine capacity and stability, while meeting constraints imposed by road transport authorities and ease of international transport of machines. With an increase in vehicle weights, soil compaction is potentially an issue, the ramifications of which are not fully appreciated.

This paper reviews the current cropping system used in Australia with respect to the percentage of the field which is available for plant growth, and assesses ways in which the potential for compaction can be reduced. Alternative crop spacing systems are also assessed. The potential for guidance systems to reduce the percentage of the field compacted is discussed briefly.

Agronomy workshop, 2 - 6 December 2000, Florida

2 – 6 December 2000

Theme: “Innovative approaches to sugarcane productivity iIn the new millennium”


Report By Ed Richard, Jr
Chairman, ISSCT Agronomy Section

The Agronomy Workshop was held from 2 to 6 December 2000 in Miami, Florida, USA at the Radisson Mart Plaza Hotel. The Workshop was organized by the Agronomy Sectional Committee of the ISSCT and members of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologist’s (ASSCT) Florida Division who served as our hosts. The workshop was dedicated to the memory of Professor David L. Anderson from the University of Florida. Dr. Anderson was an active participant in prior Agronomy Workshops and had initiated the invitation to host the Agronomy Workshop in Florida in 2000. In his memory, the local organizing committee named him a co-chairman of their committee.

The Workshop had a total of 61 participants from 11 countries and featured 22 papers and 3 posters developed around the central theme of “Innovative Approaches to Sugarcane Productivity in the New Millennium”. On the evening prior to the beginning of the Workshop the delegates were treated to a reception sponsored by the commercial members of the Florida Division of the ASSCT. A pre-workshop field tour was held on 2 December to provide educational opportunities regarding the Florida sugarcane industry and to provide an additional opportunity for the delegates to get acquainted. The tour featured various field operations in the Florida sugarcane industry from planting to cultivating to harvesting. The tour also illustrated to the delegates the diversity o f many of the sugarcane operations in Florida. This diversity includes enterprises such as sod and vegetable production. Also featured on the tour were stops at the University of Florida’s Everglades Research and Education Center at Belle Glade, the Sugar Cane Grower’s Cooperative of Florida Sugar Factory, and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s Sugarcane Field Station at Canal Point.

Plenary Session

The session began with a welcome by Dr. Ed Richard, ISSCT Agriculture Commissioner and Chairman of the Agronomy Section. The Chairman also introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Peter Rein, Chairman of ISSCT. Dr. Rein, discussed the operation of ISSCT and gave the delegates a preview of ISSCT’s XXIV Congress which will be held in Brisbane, Australia.

Technical Session

Paper presentations were grouped into “five” , one-half day topic sessions. These topics included: precision agriculture, soil conservation, green cane harvest and trash management, innovative agricultural practices, and environmental and socio-political impacts on sugarcane agronomy.

Precision Agriculture. Papers for this session originated from South Africa and Florida and dealt with such topics as the use of near infrared reflectance (NIR), GIS and GPS systems and remote sensing. This technology clearly has benefits in increasing yields by identifying problem areas within fields and using variable rate technologies to correct these problems in the targeted areas. Also demonstrated in the session was the need to identify factors that affect the performance of sugarcane varieties and to take advantages of this knowledge when making management decisions on fields where precision agriculture strategies are to be initiated. It was also agreed that the development of a yield monitoring system on combine harvesters would be an effective tool to compliment the other technologies.

Soil Conservation. Papers in this session were also from Florida and South Africa and centered around soil microbial populations during flooding, soil and water losses from sugarcane fields, and the long-term effects of trash retention on cane yield and soil fertility using results from a 60-year trial in Mount Edgecombe. Flooding is being used in Florida to stem soil subsidence in its muck soils by slowing oxidation. Flooding also appears to have an impact on the soil micro-organisms. The long-term study in South Africa brought a lot of praise both from the amount of data collected and the ability of the South Africans to continue such a long-term study. Based on results of this long term study, it was felt that it is essential to incorporate post-harvest trash residues and fertilizers into the soil to effectively restore the soil’s physical properties.

Green Cane Harvesting and Trash Management. The papers that originated from Australia, Colombia, and Mauritius brought out the fact that most growers are concerned about the negative effects of the trash residues on cane yields. Possible methods were discussed, such as raking, to minimize the residue effects on the crop while keeping it on the field to aid in erosion control and return valuable nutrients to the soil.

Innovative Agricultural Practices. Papers presented in this session came from Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and the USA. Areas of discussion in this session included: vertical mulching, management techniques to minimize nutrient export while maximizing profitability, cane injury following the application of calcium ammonium nitrate in Australia, the use of cement as a silicon source for sugarcane, transforming theoretical farming knowledge to practical application, and the indirect benefits of crops genetically transformed for herbicide resistance on sugarcane in Louisiana. This session generated quite a bit of discussion especially regarding the importance of developing techniques to reduce the loss of agrochemicals from sugarcane fields and the issue of biotechnology and, in particular herbicide resistant sugarcane and public acceptance of the sugar produced from it.

Environmental and Sociopolitical Impacts on Sugarcane Agronomy. Papers presented in this session came from South Africa and the USA and dealt with topics such as: the impact of the Everglades restoration on sugarcane culture in Florida, environmental management guidelines for sugarcane in South Africa, the impact of the recent rounds of EPA pesticide reviews on the U.S. sugarcane industry, and the environmental aspects of pre-harvest burning of sugarcane in Florida. It was clear from the papers presented and the discussions that followed that minimizing the impact of the culture of sugarcane on the environment will have to be a concerted effort involving researchers, growers, millers, and the general public.

Poster session. Posters dealing with the following titles: “Using Geo-referenced IR Imagery to Define and Treat Areas of Varied Sugar Cane Productivity: Methods and Results in South Florida”, “Green Cane Trash Blanketing: Achievements and Limitations Under Mauritian Conditions” and “Effect of Purple Nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) Competition in Florida Sugarcane (Saccharum spp.)” were placed for viewing and discussions with the authors during the various breaks throughout the workshop.

Workshop Conclusions

The general conclusion was that the Workshop was a great success with many favorable comments from the delegates on the quality of the presentations, the scope and relevance of the pre-workshop field tour, the workshop’s general organization, the suitableness of the venue and the general hospitality of the Floridians. The delegates discussed the publication of an ISSCT – sponsored Cane Nutrition Bulletin. A need for such a bulletin was certainly evident as a result of the discussions during the Workshop. It was decided that this would be brought up at the Congress in Brisbane and presented to the Executive Committee. The delegates also discussed possible topics for the next workshop which included: sugarcane culture and the environment, yield decline, site-specific precision agriculture, GMO issues as it relates to weed control and sustainability, and crop modeling. There were offers to host the next workshop from: Mauritius, South Africa, and Australia.

A comprehensive report on the Workshop activities will be presented at the forthcoming ISSCT Congress to be held in Brisbane, Australia, from 16-21 September, 2001.



  • Potential use of near infra-red reflectance (NIR) in sugarcane precision agriculture
  • A summary of precision farming results for South Florida
  • The use of digital infrared imagery in variable rate application of fertilizer in sugarcane
  • Agronomic evaluation of release varieties in South Africa
  • Characteristics of sugarcane rhizosphere under flooding
  • Research into soil and water losses from sugarcane fields in South Africa
  • Long-term effects of trash retention on cane yield and soil fertility using results from a 60 year old trial at Mount Edgecombe
  • Use of principal components analysis in the study of factors associated with sugarcane response to Nitrogen fertilizer under sub-tropical conditions of Tucuman-Argentina
  • The green cane harvesting system – an Australian perspective
  • Long-term experiments on green cane trash management
  • Nutrient and dry matter returns in crop residues from burnt and unburnt sugarcane systems
  • Use of fire retardants in sugarcane fields: preliminary results
  • Vertical mulching – a tillage technique to improve cane yields on marginal soils
  • Innovative management techniques to minimise nutrient export and maximize profitability from Australian canelands
  • Injury to sugarcane in the Herbert River region of Australia following the application of calcium ammonium nitrate
  • Response of sugarcane Wilt to zinc and sulphur and its impact on yield and juice quality
  • Cement as Silicon source for sugarcane
  • Transforming Theoretical Farming Knowledge to practical applications
  • Implications of genetically transformed corn, cotton, and soybeans for herbicide resistance for sugarcane in Louisiana
  • Sugarcane and Everglades restoration
  • Environmental management guidelines for sugarcane in South Africa
  • Pesticide reviews and implication for the U.S. sugarcane industry
  • Environmental aspects of pre-harvest burning of sugarcane in Florida
  • Using Geo-referenced IR imagery to define en treat areas of varied sugarcane productivity: methods and results, South Florida,1999
  • Green cane trash blanketing: archievements and limitations under Mauritian conditions
  • Effect of purple nutsedge (Cyperus Rotundus L.) competition in Florida sugarcane (Saccharum spp.)



J.H. Meyer

South African Sugar Association Experiment Station, South Africa.

Precision Agriculture (PAG) or Site Specific Management practices have grown in leaps and bounds in the USA and other countries and has shaped the way for efficient use of resource inputs such as herbicides and fertilizers while maximizing crop production. Modern combine harvesters and tractors come equipped with Global Positioning Systems (GPS), which enables the operator to deduce their position in the field. In the USA, combines with GPS yield monitors have increased from below 1,000 in 1995 to over 15,000 in 1999.

The concept of Precision Farming, also known as “soil or site specific management,” “farming by soil,” and “farming by the foot,” is not new and interest in the potential benefits of PAG gathered momentum in the late eighties. Advances in computers and greater precision in remote sensing capabilities have largely spawned the emerging technology of PAG. These days, combines are highly computerized and continuously measure grain yield during harvest. New developments include the use of NIR technology to continuously monitor the composition of grain with reference to moisture, protein starch and oil content. While all these developments are fast taking place in the grain crop industry, seemingly few developments in the field of continuous yield and quality mapping have taken place for sugarcane.

Until recently in the sugar industry, NIR detectors have been calibrated for manual scanning of soil and leaf samples in the laboratory (Meyer 1983, 1989) and for monitoring cane quality (Meyer 1987, Clark et al 1996, and Berding 1989), while on line NIR systems for cane payment are also now in operation in a number of countries including Brazil and Australia. The advent of small compact diode array and Acoustic Optic Tunable Filters (AOTF), makes NIR a powerful analytical technique, capable of fast, accurate, almost simultaneous quantitative measurement of many components in a complex mixture. It is these new generation NIR units that have been fitted to combine harvesters and other mobile sampling devices.

In this communication, the potential role of NIR in PAG with reference to some of the following stages will be examined:

  • Yield and quality monitoring and mapping
  • Soil and leaf sampling and analysis
  • Remote sensing
  • Variable rate applicators


A Michael Lockhart, Richard Price and Travis Murray

Lockhart Ag Technologies, USA.

The increase in sugarcane acreage in South Florida during the past ten years has been mostly to the sandier soils that are west of the Everglades Agricultural Area. Aerial infrared photographs of the sugarcane grown in this area have demonstrated a high degree of variability in the photosynthetic activity of the crop. There are multiple reasons for reduced plant vigor in some areas of these fields. For example, statistical analysis of over 800 sand land samples collected in central Hendry County has shown a high correlation among soil pH, Si, Ca, Mg, organic matter, K and P (Muchovej and Lockhart, 1999). During the past four years, thousands of acres of sandy soils in south Florida have been sampled using precision farming techniques. Based on the results, it has been determined that some Flatwoods soils of central Hendry County require a sampling intensity of one sample per acre to sufficiently identify the variability of soil pH and several plant nutrients. Soil pH values have been shown to routinely vary from 3.8 to as high as 8.0 within the same field. Laboratory experiments have been conducted which show that mixing equal volumes of soil from high and low pH areas can result in unpredictable values for the composite sample. For example, a soil sample with a pH after drying of 4.54 was mixed with a soil sample from the same field that had a pH of 7.80. The pH of a mixture of equal volumes of these two soils was determined to be 7.60 after they had been dried overnight. Liming rates for the acidic areas of the fields now far exceed the maximum two tons per acre lime recommendation from the University of Florida. Lime calibration studies are presently underway on both the west and east sides of Lake Okeechobee. In one experiment, the soil pH in the treatment receiving ten tons of dolomite per acre has increased from 4.0 to only 6.3 one year after application. Site-specific treatment using soil amendments and fertilizer was a logistical nightmare until the introduction of the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS). Multiple sites within selected fields have been soil sampled and aerially photographed on an annual basis to verify the ability of the multiple rate application approach to improve the uniformity of soil pH, plant nutrients and overall crop vigor.


Christopher Niven

GeoImaging, LLC, USA.

The traditional approach to crop production throughout the world is to base the rate of application for materials such as lime and fertilizer on laboratory analysis of composite soil samples. Recent unpublished research (Lockhart, 2000) has demonstrated that data based on composite or mixed soil samples may not provide the best information about soil conditions, especially when soil characteristics in the field vary in frequency, extent and distribution. Areas of poor crop vigor (so-called “poor spots”) are often seen throughout sugarcane fields having sandy and transitional (muck to sand) soils. However, these same fields are normally treated with single rate applications of fertilizers and soil amendments based on composite soil samples.

Two historic hurdles in sugarcane production on sandy and transitional soils were the definition of where the “poor spots” were located and how to treat these areas in a cumulative manner while still providing a different and appropriate technique to optimize production in areas of good vegetative vigor. Traditional techniques and equipment did not allow the development of treatments that considered the actual variability of soil conditions and vegetative health. Developing treatments based on the relative vegetative health or soil condition of a field as a whole consistently resulted in non-uniform crop yields that often exhibited stark contrast between areas of good and poor production.

Using digital infrared imagery to identify areas of low, medium and high vegetative health can geographically define where “poor spots” exist. Once the range of crop health is defined over the entire field using remote sensing and statistical analysis, geo-referenced digital maps of the field can be produced. The digital map is the key to managing areas within individual fields using specific and different treatments. Additional data such as soil and leaf tissue samples and grower experience and judgment can be incorporated into the application maps of various products. Each individual field can be fertilized and/or treated with other materials based on its own unique characteristics.

The results of this project demonstrate the ability to define and treat areas of sugarcane fields based on the health of the vegetation. The areas defined using imagery were compared to VR application maps developed from one acre GPS-based soil samples. Results indicate that soil condition and vegetative health vary in an extent and frequency that cannot always be detected using a one-acre grid. The digital infrared imagery “samples” the field conditions using a one-meter grid.

For two fields near Clewiston, Florida, the variable rate / digital infrared approach reduced the expected decrease in tonnage from plant cane to first stubble cane commonly associated with traditional fertilization techniques. Each field received three variable rate applications of fertilizer. The revenue generated provided a positive return on the investment in the use of digital infrared imagery, GPS-based soil samples and variable rate application of lime, calcium silicate slag, and fertilizer.


Kerry Redshaw

South African Sugar Association Experiment Station, South Africa.

The Released Variety Trial (RVT) Programme at the South African Sugar Experiment Station (SASEX) at Mount Edgecombe was established in 1966 and has been an extremely successful programme that is fairly unique to South Africa. The South African Sugar Industry is spread over a wide range of soil and agro climatic zones. There are also many different management styles and levels of the growers themselves that range from small, medium to large-scale growers. The correct choice of variety in terms of its specific adaptability, economic viability, age of cane at harvest and overall management cost can make a large difference in the overall profit a grower will incur at the end of a season. The RVT programme is designed to test released varieties at a number of different localities around the Sugar Industry, which provides the basis for advising the best choice of varieties.

A systems approach has recently been introduced to the Agronomy Department at SASEX and this has refocused the objective not only of the RVT programme, but also of the department as a whole. Data collected from variety trials is inserted into a database along with growth analysis, weed control and water management trials. Prior to the systems approach, information collected from a variety trial and hence the variety recommendations, were very specific to a particular season. Data from weather stations is now readily available to be included in the analysis of trial data. One of the aims of the systems approach is to redirect the existing resources into increasing the number of measurements taken from each trial to ensure that the performance of varieties can be explained more effectively throughout a particular season. However, this will be at the expense of the number of trials located throughout the industry. The positioning of trials will need to be managed more carefully to ensure that the most important agro climatic zones and soil types are represented. Growth analysis trials will identify and quantify variety traits of importance that will be incorporated into the sugarcane crop model. The systems approach aims to collate this variety data together with climate and soils data to assist in making recommendations and in predicting crop performance through the use of weather forecasting.


D.R. Morris and P.Y.P. Tai

USDA-ARS Sugarcane Field Station, USA.

Organic soil in the Everglades Agricultural Area have been reported to be subsiding at 1.3 cm/yr. Oxidation of organic matter by aerobic soil microorganisms is one of the leading factors of soil loss. In the process of soil oxidation, nutrients such as N and P are released. One way to reduce subsidence is to flood the soils. An experiment was conducted at Canal Point, Florida to investigate the rhizosphere microbial populations and chemistry as affected by different sugarcane varieties under flooded conditions. Five sugarcane varieties (US 87-1006, US 96-1083, US 96-1106, US 96-1112, and CP 65-357) were grown under three water-table levels (0, 15, and 30 cm from the top of the bucket) in 38 L plastic buckets containing a 1:2 mixture of sand and organic soil. Sugarcane was grown outside for 10 months (Apr. 1999 to Feb. 2000) with water-table treatments imposed after a 4-month growth period. At harvest, senescing leaves were discarded and stalks were cut at the soil surface level. Soil samples were taken in the 0-15 (A) and 15-30 (B)-cm depths and microbial counts (bacteria, actinomycetes, and fungi) and chemistry (water extractable pH, NH4-N, NO3/NO2-N, total organic carbon (TOC), and PO4-P) were analyzed. Stalk dry matter, total sugar yield, % sugar in dry matter, and number of stalks were not reduced when water was maintained at 15-cm depth compared to the non-flooded treatment. Correlation between plant yield and rhizosphere parameters showed there was a negative correlation with TOC levels in the upper soil. It appears that plants that lose more soluble carbohydrates around their root systems have lower sugar yields. Large differences in rhizosphere microbial populations were not obtained. However, populations were generally low and averaged 1.2 X 105, 4.1 X 103, and 2.6 X 102 for bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi, respectively, in the A and B horizons. The low number of microorganisms may have been due to the relatively high soil pH encountered in these soils, which averaged 7.9 in the A and B surfaces. There was a significant correlation between bacterial populations in the A horizon and TOC (average 32 ppm) in both the A and B horizons. It appears TOC has a positive effect on bacterial populations in the rhizosphere. Actinomycetes were not influenced by TOC, but were found to decline with high water table treatment in the A soil layer. Fungi were not influenced by either water table or cultivar. Available N (NH4-N, NO3/NO2-N) and P (PO4-P) in the rhizosphere were not affected by cultivar or water table. Plants and microbes probably utilized all the available N and P necessary for growth until there were uniform low levels. Amounts in the rhizosphere averaged 0.23, 1.09, and 0.32 ppm for NH4-N, NO3/NO2-N, and PO4-P, respectively, in the A and B layers. Our data indicated the TOC in the rhizosphere is an important variable related to both crop yield and bacterial populations. Future research will be required to quantify those relationships.


  1. W. Maher

    South African Sugar Association Experiment Station, South Africa.

    A research project was initiated in the late 1970’s by the South African Sugar Association Experiment Station to study factors that contribute to soil and water losses from sugarcane fields. A modeling approach, based on the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE), was used to determine values for the factors under local conditions. The objective of the project was to produce recommendations for protective practices. The research methods using small catchments, runoff plots and a rainfall simulator are described. Results from the research project were used to construct a nomograph to determine panel widths in sugarcane fields in South Africa. The construction of the nomograph to compute the panel widths is described.


Jan H. Meyer1, R. van Antwerpen1, M.H. Graham2 and R.J. Haynes2

1 South African Sugar Association Experiment Station, South Africa.
2 School of Applied Environmental Sciences, University of Natal, South Africa.

The long-term effects of green cane harvesting with trash retention, compared with burning, on sucrose yield and soil fertility was assessed using data from a trash management trial established on a vertisol at Mount Edgecombe (BT1) just over 60 years ago. Average results obtained for 35 crops from 5 crop cycles indicated a positive response to trash retention in 24 crops. In general, positive responses to trash retention were associated with crops harvested at 15 months and older and particularly where the rainfall was below the long-term mean. Whilst the benefits of moisture conservation from trash retention have long been recognized, there is now also evidence that trashing can result in a substantial improvement in soil fertility. The BT1 results showed a significant increase in soil organic matter content in the surface 10 cm of soil from trash retention that resulted in a higher total and potentially mineralizable soil N. The size of the microbial biomass and its respiratory rate, dehydrogenase activity and arginine ammonification rate were also increased by trash retention. Exchangeable K concentrations also increased markedly under trash retention reflecting the large amounts of K that are returned in trash. As expected, both exchangeable and non-exchangeable soil K concentrations as well as plant available P levels were higher in fertilized than non-fertilized treatments. Trash retention also tended to result in a decline in pH due to the greater amount of N cycling in the system. It was concluded that recommended N and K fertilizer rates could be lowered under green cane harvesting and that regular lime applications are important when acidifying nitrogenous fertilizers are being used routinely.


Federico Perez Zamora, Mariana Rufino, Jorge Scandaliaris, Eduardo Romero

Estacion Experimental Agro Industrial Obispo Colombres, Argentina.

The province of Tucuman with its 200,000 hectares represents the most important sugarcane producing areas of Argentina that is heterogeneous in soil factors as a result of soil origin, relief and annual rainfall variation.

Results from soil analysis of a profiles net spread in all the sugarcane area indicate soil organic matter contents that range between 0.91 to 3.14 % in the 0-30 cm layer of the profile, with soil textures varying from sandy loam to clay loam. Also, the drainage conditions are variable existing two clearly different zones: one which has well to excessive drained soils at the foot of the mountain and the central plain which has moderate to restricted drainage. In the latter, conditions of water logging occur at intermittent periods in January and February coinciding with the main growing season.

Since 1994 to 1998, the Obispo Colombres Experiment Station carried out 58 trials to determine the productivity responses of the ratoon crops to N fertilizer applications assessing rates from 25 to 300 kg N/ha.

The data provided by each experiment was analyzed using Cate and Nelson discontinuous Model. Afterwards, a reduced centered matrix was built up taking into account the following:

  • The response parameters of the Cate and Nelson Model (Relative Yield, Optimum Nitrogen Rate, Consume Index and Stable Maximum Yield).
  • The variables that indicate the soil Nitrogen supply (Soil Organic matter content, potential to mineralize N from soil organic matter, Total Nitrogen).
  • The variable that quantifies the crop nutritional status (N% TVD leaf).

With all the data above mentioned, a Principal Components Analysis was made.

The Yield increments were determined to be inversely related to soil N supply in each of its parameters and to the nutritional status of the control plot, shown by the leaf N concentration. This was defined by the application of the Cosines Rule.

The optimum rate was not directly associated with N supply and could only be related by means of its combination with the Consume Index (ratio between Optimum rate and Stable Maximum Yield).


Graham Kingston and Chris Norris

Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Australia.

Green cane harvesting has been adopted for 70% of the cane harvest in Queensland, but adoption ranges from 4 to 100%. Adoption in the New South Wales industry is less than 5%. There is low adoption in a tropical irrigation area because of concern that trash residues reduce efficiency of furrow irrigation. Low adoption in NSW is more a function of concern about reduced productivity with conservation of resides under cool and wet conditions. Mechanical cane harvesting capacity in both areas of low adoption is heavily committed to harvest of burnt cane. Reduced harvest rate in green cane is therefore seen as an economic issue in need for greater capital investment without commensurate increase in throughput.

Commercial strategies for managing trash are reviewed, along with potential impacts of these options on crop nutrition.

Results of a three year study of trash management techniques in the New South Wales industry show retention of a full trash blanket is uneconomic for winter harvested cane. Raking trash reduces yield loss and is economic in some situations. Retention of a trash blanket has a higher marginal return than the conventional two year burnt cane system for spring and summer harvest, except for heavy clay soil in a higher rainfall zone. Crop physiology studies show yield effects are not explained fully by prevailing temperatures.

Mechanical cane harvesters were originally designed to harvest burnt cane. Current green cane harvesting capacity is largely the result of modifications to power input and cleaning systems. These modifications have not addressed need for improved feeding of green cane into the harvester and have increased loss of cane and juice in the machine. The paper highlights results of recent Australian research in these areas.


Jorge Torres and Fernando Villegas

Cenicana, Colombia.

The Colombia sugar industry and the government have signed an agreement to eliminate pre-harvest burning of cane fields before year 2005. Cane farmers are well aware of the need to adjust cultural practices to maintain the economic viability of cane production. After green cane harvesting of commercial varieties, the amount of fresh residues left behind can vary between 50 to 150 t/ha, making it necessary to find short-term alternatives for green cane management under heavy trash conditions.

When it happens to rain after the harvest, it is common to observe excess moisture at the soil surface creating stool rooting and therefore poor germination of commercial fields. In Colombia, year round harvesting is practiced which may have a negative impact on cane production due impaired stool germination and stunted stalk growth due to the presence of residues. Several field trials have been conducted with different varieties and on different soils. A long term experiment is being conducted with V 71-51 variety on a Mollisol to identify the best trash management treatment which includes: 1- A trash blanket evenly distributed over the stool and inter-space (0x0); 2- Trash raked into a windrow on every inter-row (1×1); 3- Trash raked into a windrow placed on every other inter-row (1×1); 4-Two inter-rows with trash windrow followed by two interspaces without trash; 5- A blanket of trash, chopped by a forage harvester.

Right after green harvesting of the plant cane crop, the proposed trash management treatments were imposed in a commercial plantation. Cane yields of first and second ratoon crops were similar in all trash management treatments including burnt cane. Third ratoon cane yields of 0x0, 0x1 and 1×1 trash treatments, where there is no chance to conduct cultural practices, were 40% lower than other treatments. This fact emphasizes the need to conduct cultivation practices to incorporate fertilizers and restore soil physical properties; otherwise, a significant cane yield decline is expected. To verify this hypothesis, non-mechanized treatment plots were replaced by other trash management treatments; as a result, overall cane-yield of fourth and fifth ratoon crops were similar or better than the reference check treatment of burnt cane before harvest.

Under the Colombian conditions, it is essential to conduct green cane trash management treatments that allow for mechanized cultural practices; otherwise, cane production is affected.


Ross D.J. Mitchell1, Fiona A. Robertson1, Graham A. Kingston1 and Peter Larsen2

1 Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Australia.
2 GRO, Australia.

Retention of crop residues, instead of burning them, may allow greater organic matter and nutrient retention in the soil. This would have implications for fertilizer requirements and water use. The recovery of nutrients (nitrogen, N; calcium, Ca; magnesium, Mg; phosphorus, P; potassium, K; and, sulfur, S) and dry matter (DM) in burnt and unburnt residues (non-millable above ground biomass) were quantified in a series of eight field experiments in central and northern Queensland. The experiments were intended to indicate nutrient and DM retention in the immediate area of the fire only, with no allowance being made for re-deposition of airborne material.

The quantity of DM and nutrients (except K) in sugarcane residues (tops, trash and total residue) were linearly related to mechanically harvested sugarcane yield (fresh weight, FW) (r2+0.50-0.88). The nutrient and DM recovered after burning the standing crop was 5-32% of initial inputs. The quantity of nutrients in unburnt residues that would have been lost by burning (the unburnt-burnt differential), also tended to increase linearly as crop yield increased. The effect of these nutrient and DM returns on soil carbon (C) and nutrients was assessed in six short-medium term (1-33 years) experiments. The additional nutrients returned after one year of residue retention was insufficient to increase available soil K or total C and N. Six to eight years of residue retention was sufficient to increase the total C by ca 30-50% in the surface soil (0-5cm), and the total N by 9-60%. Although microbial biomass was increased by comparable proportions, the net N mineralization potential was not affected by residue retention.

Potassium was rapidly leached from cane residues by simulated rainfall and was assumed as equivalent to inorganic fertilizer K additions. The plant available soil K reached equilibrium with differential K fertilizer inputs (0-196 kg K/ha/year) after ca. 15-20 years. Beyond this equilibrium, the quantity of K in the cane residues was positively related to historical K application. The linear relationship between K input and crop off take, indicates that 25-30 kg K/ha/year would become available for sugarcane uptake from extra nutrient retained in trash of a typically yielding crop of sugarcane.

The data presented in this paper indicate that the additional quantities of nutrients and DM retained when sugarcane residues are not burnt, can, for some nutrients, be conveniently estimated from a universally available data set (crop yield). Although total soil N content has been increased by 6-8 years of trash retention, N availability was apparently unaffected. The greater K retention may more immediately effect fertilizer requirements and reductions of 25-30 kg/ha may be possible.


  1. Seeruttun, C. Barbe, M. Mangar and J. Deville

    Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius.

    Accidental fires to standing cane and green cane trash blankets cause significant economic losses and crop management problems every year; more than 2500 ha (3% of area under cane) were burnt in 1998. Cane fires have also discouraged some farmers from adopting green cane trash blanketing. The efficacy of a fire retardant, Magma®, has been evaluated on trash blankets; preliminary tests have shown that the product needs to be applied or coated on all sides of trash to be effective. Spraying the product on the upper surface of a trash layer or blanket with a knapsack sprayer, irrespective of nozzle types, and increasing both rates of product from 10 to 100 g/m2 and volume of water to almost a drenching situation did not improve efficacy. Promising results have been obtained by the use of air-assisted spraying; the progressing fire stopped when reaching a 2 m band treated with a mist-blower delivering about 1.2 L/minute and 25 g/m2 of product. The optimum amount of product, minimum width of treated band and its efficacy on standing cane is being determined.


R van Antwerpen and J.H. Meyer

South African Sugar Association Experiment Station, South Africa.

Low water intake rates due either to natural surface crusting or smearing effects from compaction is recognized as a severe problem in limiting water use efficiency in both rain-fed and irrigated cane areas of the world. The performance of cane established under vertical mulching (VM) tillage was compared with that grown under normal cultivation in two rain-fed and two irrigated trials. Materials used as ameliorants with VM included topsoil, river sand, gypsum and filtercake. VM with filtercake was the most effective treatment resulting in responses of 1.2 ton sucrose per hectare per annum on average. The residual effect of VM with filtercake in the longest running trial lasted for 11 crops prior to the termination of the trial. A major benefit of VM with filtercake was an improvement in the terminal intake rate from an average of 36 mm/hr in the control treatment to 108 mm/hr for VM with filtercake. Other soil properties that benefited from this treatment included water distribution, water infiltration, effective rooting depth and root distribution. Although VM with filtercake seemed to be costly, it was shown that if the nutrient value of filtercake is ignored (which is considerable) that the breakeven point is less than two years.


John Reghenzani, B.W. Simpson and J.D. Armour

Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Australia.

The Australian sugar industry has recognized the need for greater research, development and extension of improved environmental management practices. The results of this program are currently being extended to the industry by the Cooperative Research Center for Sustainable Sugar Production (CRC Sugar) and its partners through a series of Environmental Short Courses. This paper outlines advice currently being presented to the Australian industry on innovative management techniques to minimize agrochemical loss from cane fields.

Management techniques that minimize agrochemical export from cane lands have benefits for both growers and the environment. Farmers benefit from reduced costs, improved agrochemical use efficiency and enhanced profitability. Environmental and wider community benefits include less degradation of natural resources such as surface and underground water as well as improved sustainability and life style in the longer term. It is necessary to take the wider and long-term view of improved management options. Management to reduce losses by one pathway can increase losses to others. A coordinated plan to reduce nutrient loss should be accompanied by reduced inputs.

Improved efficiency of plant uptake of all nutrients would result from the management options for nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) suggested here. While there is a limited range of pesticides in use and increased green-cane harvesting with trash retention have reduced requirements for herbicides, farmers are strongly encouraged to take a responsible approach to pesticide application. This will occur with more information on pesticides behavior in the environment and increased publicity for improved techniques.


John Reghenzani

Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Australia

Due to favorable pricing of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) fertilizer, a number of farmers in the Herbert River Region of Australia used this nitrogenous fertilizer to side dress plant cane in 1999. The cane looked healthy until about six weeks after application, when heavy rainfall resulted in water logging. Within three days of the onset of anaerobic conditions, necrotic lesions appeared on foliage and the cane began to die. Preliminary tests in the field did not indicate water logging or fertilizer burn as basic causes of the problem. Analysis of the product did not indicate contamination by herbicides.

Although less severe, foliar lesions were reproduced where CAN was applied in trials conducted at the better-drained regional sugar experiment station. Onset of these symptoms was within three days of treatment application. Soil extracts did not indicate the presence of detectable levels of nitrite. These trials indicated that urea applied at similar rates of nitrogen did not have any adverse effect. Symptom development was very dependent on the degree of water logging. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and lime in similar proportions to that present in CAN also result in lesion development. Application of iron sulfate to the foliage in addition to CAN reduced the percentage of foliar lesions. Another nitrogenous fertilizer ammonium sulfate nitrogen (ASN) produced lesions, but to a lesser extent.

While only a few field sites exhibited severe symptoms and sugarcane death, this problem was of concern, as the basic cause remains unknown. A preliminary literature search and communication with field staff has failed to provide evidence of documented cases of crop death following the application of CAN or ASN in Australia or elsewhere. While this may indicate that the problem is rare, the total loss of the crop in the cases documented in this paper is of concern, particularly if the conditions that caused death were to occur over a larger area. As a result of this problem in the Herbert region, the use of CAN is not recommended in fields of plant cane that may be subject to water logging.


  1. Lal, Aneg Singh, Atul Singh and S.B. Singh

    U.P. Council of Sugarcane Research, India

    A field experiment, conducted at the Sugarcane Research Institute, Shahjahanpur, located at 27.53º N latitude and 79.54º E longitude under the subtropical conditions of India, revealed that a basal application of Zn at 25.0 kg ha-1 and S at 50.0 kg ha-1 or their foliar application (0.5% each) alone or in combination to CoS 92254 sugarcane reduced the wilt incidence and increased the number of shoots, NMC and cane yield significantly. Sucrose percent in juice was also enhanced markedly with Zn and S treatments. The addition of S and Zn at S1Zn1 (50.0 kg ha-1 S + 25.0 kg ha-1 Zn as a basal spray) and S2Zn2 (0.5% S + 0.5% Zn as a foliar spray) levels decreased the disease intensity resulting in the improvement of crop productivity. In general, both the disease severity and crop losses decreased with the increasing levels of S and Zn in the soil.


Gaspar Korndorfer1 and M. Benedini2

1 Universidade Federal de Uberlandia, Instituto de Ciencias Agrarias, Brazil.
2 Usina Nova Uniao, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil.

In Brazil, silicon is an element little considered in the plant nutrition research, but it is known that this element can help and improve plant protection against plagues and diseases. This work had the objective to study the effect of cement as a silicon source and its effects on plagues (borer), disease management (rust) and sugarcane yield and quality. For such research, three sugarcane cultivars (SP71-6163; SP79-1011 and RB72454) and five silicon rates coming from cement (0, 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 kg ha-1 of Si) were used. The randomized block design was selected in order to distribute the treatments in a field, and the statistical model was accomplished into the factorial design. The Si application increased cane productivity. Soluble Si, exchangeable-Ca and pH also increased where cement was applied. Silicon did not affect borer attack incidence. The cultivar yield decreased in the following order: RB72454>SP79-1011>SP71-6163.


Norman Rozeff

Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, USA

From the ivory tower to the field, the dissemination of knowledge requires an evolutionary process whereby theoretical ideas are modified and communicated in language and ways understandable to the end user. An example that shows a three-generation transformation from theoretical to practical is presented. The example deals with the theme development on the subject “Limitations to Sugarcane Production.”


Edward P. Richard, Jr.

USDA-ARS Sugarcane Research Unit, USA.

At least 50% of the corn, cotton, and soybean planted in the U.S. are cultivars that have been genetically transformed to be resistant to postemergence applications of glyphosate. This technology offers the grower the flexibility of using an effective, broad spectrum, environmentally friendly herbicide to control troublesome annual and perennial weeds without fear of crop injury and only when weeds are present at economically impacting levels. In the southern U.S. where perennial weeds like bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) and johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) are a problem, the use of this technology is especially attractive. The adaption of this technology has also had an indirect impact on the U.S. cane sugar industry and Louisiana’s industry in particular.

Approximately 20 percent of the sugarcane area in Louisiana is fallowed each year in anticipation for replanting in late summer. Often, these fallowed fields are subjected to frequent diskings and multiple applications of relatively high rates of glyphosate to control rhizomatous bermudagrass and johnsongrass which cannot be selectively eliminated within the crop. In some of the fallowed fields, sugarcane growers opt to plant multiple drills of glyphosate-resistant corn or soybeans on established sugarcane beds. When possible, the crops are harvested and the income used to offset expenditures for land preparation and seeding. By planting multiple drills on established sugarcane beds, growers take advantage of the foliar cover of the crop to suppress weed development. Ultimately, this reduces the need for higher rates and multiple applications of glyphosate and results in additional savings.

As the area planted to glyphosate-resistant crops has increased in the U.S., sales of pre-emergence herbicides for use in these crops have decreased. To offset the reductions in sales, companies have been forced to turn their attention to the sale of herbicides in crops such as sugarcane, which have not been transformed for herbicide resistance. To increase their presence in these crops, manufacturers have offered price-reduction incentives or rebates to make their products more economically acceptable to growers. In Louisiana, the cost of the herbicides pendimethalin and metribuzin has been reduced by 15 to 25 percent through rebate offers.

The acceptability of the herbicide-resistant technology in the seeded crops has also spurred manufacturer interest in the development of soil-active herbicides for non-transformed crops like sugarcane. Several of these herbicides, azafenidin by DuPont and clomazone and sulfentrazone by FMC, are projected to have full registrations by 2001. In addition, manufacturers have also turned their attention towards the development of herbicides that can be applied in mixture with glyphosate to improve some of glyphosate’s shortcomings such as its lack of residualness and its poor control of morningglories (Ipomoea spp.) and the nutsedges (Cyperus spp.). Currently, four of these herbicides are being evaluated in Louisiana for the control of morningglory and nutsedge, as well as other weeds, when applied alone in sugarcane or in mixture with glyphosate in fallowed fields.

If public acceptance of genetically modified crops increases, the sugarcane industry of Louisiana will certainly benefit from the planting of glyphosate-resistant sugarcane, particularly in fields having a history of being severely infested with perennial grass weeds. Nevertheless, the Louisiana cane sugar industry has benefited indirectly from the development of this technology in seeded crops through the reduction in costs for weed control and the introduction of new products.


Barry Glaz and Marcel Aillery

USDA-ARS Sugarcane Field Station, USA.

Restoration of the Everglades and other linked ecosystems in South Florida is one of the most far-reaching ecological restoration programs ever undertaken. The purpose of this discussion will be to explore strategies by which the agricultural sciences can serve sugarcane growers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) to enable them to participate as partners in the restoration process. Key ecological issues in the Everglades are phosphorus enrichment, changes in timings and quantities of water delivery, and changes in habitat. Human issues linked to these ecological issues include economic viability of sugarcane both with and without changes that favor the natural Everglades conservation of the organic soils of the EAA. Multi- disciplinary research is discussed to help resolve these ecological and human issues. (1) Agronomic and genetic research to incrementally raise the water table in commercial sugarcane fields without reducing profits. (2) Microbiological research to determine durations and depths of water tables necessary to control oxidation of organic soils and further research to determine residual effects of previous floods or high water tables. (3) Soil and plant nutrition research to link to the agronomic and microbiological work to determine their effects on phosphorus and nitrogen release and sugarcane phosphorus and nitrogen nutrition. (4) Linkages with hydrologic modelers of public agencies so they can include basin-wide incremental changes occurring in the EAA into their Everglades models as long-term Everglades restoration proceeds through adaptive management.


G.W. Maher

South African Association Extension Office, South Africa.

Environmental management guidelines have been developed for the South African sugarcane grower. This follows an internationally recognized environmental management system. The contents of these guidelines are outlined. An approach to obligatory environmental audits required by the system is described and includes the make-up of the audit procedure in relation to the guidelines. The procedure for scoring and rating of individual farms is described, as is a reporting system developed to outline an action plan to correct deficiencies.


Dudley T. Smith1, Ryan P. Viator1, and Leonard P. Gianessi2

1 Texas A&M University, USA.
2 National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, USA.

The 1996 Food Quality Protection Act mandated new regulatory requirements for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Currently labeled and new chemicals are subjected to complex dietary and non-dietary, occupational, and fate/environmental considerations, with less importance placed on the economic benefits of pesticides. Since numerous weed, disease, and insect pests limit sugarcane productivity, the retention of current pesticides and availability of new products are important to sustain profitability. Although sugarcane acreage in the U.S. approaches 1 million acres, commercial firms are not particularly interested in this pesticide market due to high costs of development, geographic diversity in the U.S. industry, and regulatory requirements. Public and private sector research continues to focus on cultural, biological, and other means of non-chemical control of pests, but pesticide development is still essential for the future. While some environmental economic, and social factors appear to limit pesticide development, several research initiatives are continuing on pesticides and integrated pest management for the future.


John W. Dunckelman and Michael R. Bellamy

Florida Sugar Cane League, USA.

The environmental aspects of conducting standing pre-harvest burning of the Florida sugarcane harvest is discussed in relation to monitoring of air quality and avoidance of nuisance effects on residential areas in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area, a large expanse of farmland in Florida to the south of Lake Okeechobee. Current sugarcane production in Florida now stands at approximately 1.95 million short tons of sugar from 455,000 acres. This places Florida as the top sugar producing state of the U.S.A. It also opens the industry to criticism regarding the environmental impact of employed farming practices, including pre-harvest burning for trash reduction prior to harvesting. Sugarcane burning practices are reviewed and air quality monitoring efforts of the industry are discussed. An examination of PM-10 data in relation to sugarcane burning, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, and factors such as weather patterns is made. The possible impact of new regulations such as the PM-2.5 standard is reviewed from the standpoint of agricultural burning in south Florida, and the industry’s future outlook for the continued use of fire in sugarcane agriculture is projected.

Using Geo-referenced IR Imagery to Define and Treat Areas of Varied Sugar Cane Productivity: Methods and results, South Florida, 1999

Christopher Niven

GeoImaging, LLC, USA.


  1. Seeruttun, C. Barbe, A. Gaungoo and G. McIntyre

    Sugar Research and Development Corporation, Australia.

    Green cane trash blanketing (GCTB) was recommended in the sub-humid areas of Mauritius in 1992 following trial results showing increases in cane yield, less labor requirement for trash management in manually harvested fields and a better control of weeds. The adoption of GCTB was boosted with the expansion of mechanical harvest, especially with chopper harvesters. With GCTB, the first pre-emergence herbicide application is avoided and some fields may even reach the next harvest without any herbicide application. This practice has thus contributed to reduce significantly the total amount of herbicides used in sugarcane. GCTB has, however, some limitations in areas with more than 3000 mm of annual rainfall as the resulting high level of soil moisture and decrease in soil temperature lead to a significant decrease in cane yield. As weed control is, also, not necessarily improved by GCTB in these areas, the trash should be raked and lined in the inter-rows. With increasing pressure to reduce cane burning and the extension of chopper harvesters, GCTB is expected to become the main trash management practice in coming years in areas other than those of the super humid zone of Mauritius.


Matthew J. Duchrow and James M. Shine, Jr.

Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, USA.

Purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus L.) causes yield losses in many agronomic crops. Yield losses associated with purple nutsedge in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) have not been studied extensively. Partial additive studies were conducted in containers to determine the effect of interference of different initial population densities of purple nutsedge on sugarcane. Five commercial cultivars were evaluated: CP72-2086, CP80-1827, CP80-1743, CP88-1762, and CP89-2143. Purple nutsedge tubers were planted at densities of 50, 100, 150, 200 and 250 tubers/m2. Purple nutsedge densities as low as 50/m2 significantly (?<0.05) reduced sugarcane fresh weight, number of tillers, and primary stalk fresh weight, and primary stalk diameter in the plant cane crop. Total fresh weight reduction at 250 purple nutsedge tubers/m2 ranged from 19% in CP80-1827 to 29% in CP80-1743. Tiller numbers were reduced from 4% in CP80-1827 to 37% in CP80-1743. Losses in primary stalk diameter ranged from 4% in CP80-1743 to14% in CP80-1827 and CP88-1762. Primary stalk fresh weight losses ranged from 16% in CP72-2086 to 36% in CP80-1827.


Belle Glade, Florida – USA
Phone: +1 863 983-9151
Fax : +1 863 983-2792


Dr. John Dunckelman
Chairman, Local Organizing Committee
Dr. Edward Richard, Jr
Chairman ISSCT Agronomy Section
Breeding Workshop, 13 - 17 November 2000, Barbados


13 – 17 NOVEMBER, 2000

Theme: “Innovative Solutions for Future Progress – Sugarcane Breeding and Germplasm Management Strategies”



This workshop was hosted by WEST INDIES CENTRAL SUGAR CANE BREEDING STATION (WICSCBS) on behalf of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (Inc) (SAC) and the West Indies Sugarcane Breeding
Groves, St. George – Barbados
Phone: +246 433 1308
Fax : +246 433 5568


Dr. P. Seshagiri Rao
Local Organizer
Dr. William Lee Burnquist
Chairman ISSCT Breeding Section


Sugar cane has been grown profitably in the West Indies for a very long time. It is well adapted to the soils and the climate of the region.

The sugar cane breeding programme began in Barbados in the 1880’s. Successful varieties were produced for Barbados and other Caribbean islands. The West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station (WICSCBS) was established as a regional organisation in 1932. In 1962 the West Indies Sugar Association, later called the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC), took over responsibility for running the Station. Cane breeding will stand at the forefront in the continuation of a successful sugar industry in the Caribbean.

The W.I. Sugarcane Breeding and Evaluation Network (WISBEN) has been operating in the Caribbean for many years, playing a vital part in the life of the sugar communities of the region and around the world. The network has a central node at the Cane Breeding Station and the distributed nodes are the Variety Testing Stations of the member countries.

There are currently six members of SAC. These are the Barbados Sugar Cane Variety Testing Station of Barbados Agricultural Management Co. Ltd, GuySuco Agricultural Research Unit of Guyana Sugar Corporation; Caroni Research Station of Caroni (1975) Ltd, Trinidad; the Sugar Industry Research Institute of the Sugar Industry Authority, Jamaica; the Sugarcane Research Station of Belize Sugar Industry Ltd; the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation. These six members come under the umbrella organisation, the Sugar Association of the Caribbean (SAC) Inc. SAC owns and operates the Central Breeding Station in Barbados. The Associate members of WISBEN are Central Romana Corporation Ltd, Dominican Republic; Azucarera Nacional S.A (ANSA), Compania Azucarera La Estrella S.A (CALESA), Panama; Kenana Sugar Co. Ltd., Sudan; Compagnie Sucriere Sénégalaise, Senegal; Quang N’Gay Sugar Corporation, Vietnam and Ramu Sugar Ltd, Papua New Guinea. The other Associate members of WISBEN are from Guadeloupe, Martinique and a few French speaking African countries. These countries receive WISBEN services through Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) in Montpellier, France.

Energy & Engineering Workshop, 23 - 27 October 2000, Mauritius

23-27 October, 2000



22 – 29 October 2000
Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute,

During the 23rd congress of the ISSCT in India in February 1999, the delegates from Mauritius kindly offered to host the workshop for the society’s Engineering and Energy Section. The result was that about 90 delegates from 16 countries gathered at the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute on 22 October 2000 to start five days of deliberations and discussions relating to the cogeneration of electricity by cane sugar factories.

Workshop Objective:

The aim of the workshop was to review and discuss all aspects of the cogeneration of electricity so that the delegates gained an improved understanding of the current state of cogeneration technology, the incentives for its implementation and the future developments that could enhance financial viability. The workshop was specifically not an academic conference. Rather it was programmed to be a relatively informal interchange of knowledge and experience between practising raw sugar industry technologists. All delegates were encouraged to participate actively in the interchange and discussion.

Technical Program:

The program for the workshop consisted of three days of technical sessions with two days of visits to factories in Mauritius which had large cogeneration facilities installed. Some delegates took the opportunity while in Mauritius for a side trip to Reunion Island after the workshop had finished to view the cogeneration facilities at the two factories on that island.

The workshop was opened by the acting Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology and Natural Resources, who welcomed all the overseas delegates to Mauritius and gave background information about the development of electricity cogeneration in Mauritius. This was followed by a most informative keynote address by Dr Ram Tyagarajan, Chairman and Managing Director, Thiru Arooran Sugars Ltd, India. His address traced the evolution of cogeneration in India and reviewed the experience from an industrial perspective, drawing on his extensive personal experience.

In the next session, a representative from each country attending the workshop was asked to describe briefly the status of cogeneration in their country before the workshop began a detailed consideration of cogeneration.

Trash collection, cane cleaning and biomass storage were the topics addressed on the afternoon of the first day. Speakers from Mauritius, Brazil, Australia and India highlighted the large amount of additional biomass that was available if the leaves and dry trash were made available to generate energy. The discussion also highlighted the problems involved in bringing the large volume of low density leaf into the sugar factory.

The session on factory changes to maximise output attracted the largest number of speakers. The session occupied most of the second day of technical discussion with 13 abstracts provided for presentation. The interest arises because extensive cogeneration implies a considerable effort to minimise energy use within the factory itself. There were several presentations that looked at the developments in the European beet sugar industry because of the considerable time, effort and resources that industry has committed to minimising energy use. Speakers from the cane sugar industries touched on a wide range of options that could contribute to a reduction in energy use in the process section of the factory and the problems associated with changing an existing factory to minimise energy use rather than designing a factory from the start to minimise energy use.

The last sessions on the second day considered boiler optimisation for cogeneration. The discussion focussed on design factors, maintenance techniques and operational practices which could assist significantly in optimising boiler operations. Particular reference was made to the ability to fire the boilers with both coal and bagasse at different times of the year. The effects of varying fuel quality was also mentioned. There was considerable interest in a cost effective design of a flue gas bagasse dryer displayed by one of the delegates.

The last day of technical deliberations covered a wide range of topics, including bagasse gasification, environmental considerations, the interaction between the sugar mill and the power utility and the financial incentives required to encourage effective cogeneration. There was considerable interest in recent developments in biomass gasification because of its potential to approximately double the amount of electricity that can be generated per tonne of bagasse. The discussion on financial incentives focussed initially on the efforts of the government of Mauritius to encourage cogeneration and the problems associated with developing the right financial signals to encourage the required response. The overall conclusion from the discussion was that some sort of government encouragement has been required where ever significant cogeneration has take place.

Closing Session and Workshop Conclusions

At the closing technical session, delegates were asked to draw conclusions from the workshop discussions, to advise on possible improvements that could be incorporated into future workshops and to suggest future workshop topics.

The delegates drew two primary technical conclusions from the workshop. The first was that bagasse gasification appeared to be the way of the future and that consequently there was a need to complete an effective commercial scale demonstration plant. The second conclusion was that there was currently insufficient knowledge to know what the effective minimum steam consumption target should be for a cane sugar factory. While the low steam use levels achieved by the beet industry were felt to be thermodynamically achievable in a cane factory, there was concern that the increase sugar colour development that followed from the use of higher pressure low grade steam might result in excessive and unacceptable sugar colour formation.

The discussion on the topics for future ISSCT Engineering and Energy Section workshops suggested that possible future topics could be the minimum effective steam consumption in cane sugar factories, various aspects of milling and/or diffusion extraction, advanced instrumentation and control, and chemical usage in factories.

Factory Visits

On Mauritius, the delegates visited the sugar factories at Belle Vue, Flacq United Estates, St Aubin and Beau Champ. Twenty four delegates also visited Le Gol and Bois Rouge factories on La Reunion Island.


The delegates expressed their sincere thanks and appreciation for the excellent administration and hospitality shown by the Director and staff of the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute as well as to the Management and staff of the six sugar factories that the delegates visited.

Dr Vic Mason
Chairman, ISSCT Engineering and Energy Section
5 December 2000

Molecular Biology Workshop, 17 - 18 September, 2001, Brisbane, Australia


Two Workshops will be held in conjunction with the 2001 Congress, running concurrently with the program. This is a first for ISSCT. The Workshops, which are normally held separately from the Congress, will be embedded into the program and offer specialist researchers an extra incentive to attend the Congress.

Each Workshop will focus around a primary group of international specialists. Congress delegates not registered to participate in the Workshops will be able to attend as observers, with the opportunity to participate during discussion periods.

Workshop 1 – Processing

Theme: “Sugar Losses from Mixed Juice to Market Sugar”
19 – 20 September 2001

This two-day Workshop aims to improve participants’ understanding of the mechanisms of chemical, physical, microbiological and equipment related losses associated with each of the unit processes in the back end of a sugar factory, and the means of reducing them.


Wednesday 19 September 2001

Session 1: Opening Session – Welcome and background on ISSCT Workshops – Vic Mason

Introduction to the workshop
“Introduction, aims and objectives of the workshop” – Vic Mason

Opening Address:

  • “Aspects of sucrose losses: Impact on profitability, competitiveness and the environment” 
    Ross Broadfoot
10:30 Morning tea/coffee

Session 2 – Physical Losses  Chairman: Raymond Rivalland.

Introductory paper
“Physical losses in cane sugar manufacture” – Raymond Rivalland

Participating speakers:

  • “Sucrose losses in processes prior to mill operations: Experiences in the Colombian sugar industry” –
    Jesus Larrahondo and Carlos Briceno
  • “Measurement and analysis errors” – Kong Win Chang & Wong Sak Hoi
  • “Selection of de-entrainment louvres to reduce sugar losses in process vapours and air” – Ross Broadfoot and Gordon Ingram
  • “Stock taking losses” – Veronique Sens
  • “Physical losses in a cane sugar refinery” – Luis Bento
  • “Packaging losses” – Mick Greenfield
12:30 Lunch

Session 3 – Chemical Losses  Chairman: Les Edye

Introductory paper
An overview of sucrose degradation” – Les Edye

Participating speakers:

  • Sucrose loss in model systems” – Mary An Godshall
  • Front-end losses of sucrose: Direct measurement or calculation using a mathematical model” –
    Kevin Schaffler
  • Sucrose losses in juice and during clarification; Experience in the United States” – Gillian Eggleston
  • Minimising sugar losses with in-line saccharate mixing” – Rod Steindl
  • Experimental design, error analysis and statistical significance of experimental loss measurements” – Les Edye
15:30 Tea/coffee break

Session 4 – Losses in Molasses  Chairman: Robert Kwok

Introductory paper
A brief overview of sugar losses in molasses” – Robert Kwok

Participating speakers:

  • Sucrose losses resulting from poor pan stage exhaustion and poor high grade fugalling performance” – Ross Broadfoot
  • Sucrose losses in low grade massecuite processing” – Ken Miller
  • Determination of target purity for Colombian exhausted molasses” – NJ Gill, Carlos Briceno & A Palmer
  • Loss of sucrose in South African molasses” Raoul Lionnet
  • Molasses loss in the Mauritian sugar industry” – Lynne Wong Sak Hoi
  • Losses in Molasses – some Florida experiences” – Stephen J. Clarke
17:30 Close
18:30 Workshop BBQ – University of Queensland Staff Club
Thursday 20 September 2001

Session 5 – Microbiological Losses  Chairman – Brian Purchase

Introductory paper
Losses caused by micro-organisms” – Brian Purchase

Participating speakers:

  • A survey of post-harvest biological losses in Indian sugar factories: an emerging challenge” –
    S. Solomon, HN Shahi, A Suman, A Gaur, S Dab, I Singh
  • Losses associated with post-harvest and pre-delivery conditions” – Pam Morel du Boil
  • Microbial degradation of sugar in cane diffusers” – Bernard Ravno
10:30 Morning tea/coffee break

Session 6 – Losses due to Crystal Characteristics (Part1)  Chairman – Steve Davis

Introductory paper
Losses due to crystal characteristics” – Steve Davis

Participating speakers:

  • The measurement of the C-crystal size and its impact on sucrose losses” – Raoul Lionnet
  • Losses associated with crystal shape” – Pam Morel du Boil

Handling of clarifier muds: loss management (Part 2)  Chairman – Bruce Moor

Introductory paper
“Handling of clarifier muds – Loss management” – Bruce Moor

Participating speakers:

  • Reducing the specific cane resistance to reduce the pol loss in filter cake” – Rod Steindl
12:30 Lunch

Session 7 – Performance indicators  Chairman – Stephen Clarke

Introductory paper
Performance indicators” – Stephen Clarke

Participating speakers:

  • Performance indicators in raw sugar production” – Ken Miller
  • Bench marking process losses to core constants” – Josh Jaddoo
  • Undetermined Loss” as a tool for minimising sucrose loss: A South African perspective – David J. Love
15:30 Tea/coffee break

Session 8 – Design of equipment in factories to reduce losses (Part 1)  Chairman: Peter Rein


Introductory Paper
Design of sugar factory equipment to reduce loss” – Peter Rein

Participating Speakers:

  • Minimisation of sugar losses during evaporation” – Rikard Krook
  • Clarifier design to reduce losses” – Steve Davies
  • Design of continuous crystallisers to optimise flow patterns” – David Love
17:00 Closing session: review and conclusions (Part 2)  Chairman: Vic Mason
17:30 End of Workshop

Workshop 2 – Molecular Biology

Theme: “Which Way for Sugarcane in the Century of Biotechnology?”
17 – 21 September 200

This three-day Workshop will focus on presentation, review and discussion of progress in the applications of genomics, molecular marker technologies and genetic transformation to understanding and improving sugar cane. One key outcome sought from this workshop will be the strengthening of, and formation of new international linkages targeting key areas in the application of molecular techniques to sugar cane improvement. It is expected that many of the key sugar cane scientists in these fields from the major sugar producing countries will attend,as well as other molecular biologists involved in other fields of sugar cane biotechnology.


Monday 17th September
Congress Biology Session 1
Chair:  To be advised
14:00 Welcome to the Biology Session
14:10 Angélique D’Hont Chromosome walking towards a major resistance gene for common rust of sugarcane
14:30 Jorge da Silva Development of EST-derived RFLP markers for sugarcane breeding
14:50 Sarah Lingle Comparison of sucrose metabolism and gene expression in two diverse Saccharum genotypes
15:10 Erik Mirkov Identification of sugarcane proteins involved in post-transcriptional gene silencing
15:30 Afternoon tea  
Congress Biology Session 2
16:00 Eugenio Ulian A new approach for control of Diatraea saccharalis (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) through the expression of an insecticidal Cryla(b) protein in transgenic sugarcane
16:30 Yong-Bao Pan Developing species-specific DNA markers to assist in sugarcane breeding
17:00 Salah Aljanabi Detection and characterisation of Sugarcane yellows phytoplasma
17:30 Molecular Biology Section Meeting


Tuesday 18th September
08:30 Frikkie Botha Opening of the Molecular Biology Workshop
Session 1.  The sugarcane genome: mining and refining the treasure in genetic ore
Chair:  Barbara Huckett.  Discussion Leader:  William Burnquist
08:50 John Manners A genomics paradigm for genetic improvement research in sugarcane
09:20 Barbara Huckett Genomics research at SASEX: perspectives from a small-scale programme
09:40 Rosanne Casu Genetic and expression profiling in sugarcane
10:00 Marco Silva-Filho Searching for insect resistance genes in sugarcane
10:20 Morning tea  
11:00 Andrzej Kilian DNA sequence information independent technologies for plant genomics
11:20 Douglas Boyes The industrialisation of plant gene function discovery
11:40 Discussion.  The sugarcane genome
12:30 Lunch  
Session 2.  Maps, markers, and marker-assisted breeding: the dollars are in the details
Chair:  Lynne McIntyre.  Discussion Leader:  Mike Butterfield
14:00 Angélique D’Hont Sugarcane genome analysis with molecular markers, a first decade of research
14:30 Lynne McIntyre Identification of DNA markers linked to agronomic traits in sugarcane in Australia
14:50 Jean -Yves Hoarau Quantitative trait allele (QTA) for yield components in a modern sugarcane cultivar
15:10 George Piperidis Chromosome composition analysis of various Saccharum interspecific hybrids by genomic in situ hybridisation (GISH)
15:30 Afternoon tea  
16:00 Peter Albertson Introgression of S. officinarum.  A biochemical and molecular marker approach to improve CCS.
16:20 Mike Butterfield Aspects of genetics and statistics in designing marker assisted selection programmes for sugarcane
16:40 Discussion. Maps, markers and marker-assisted breeding
17:30 Conclusion of day 1  


Wednesday 19th September
Session 3. Genetic transformation and transgene expression: courtship clues for successful union 
Chair:  Eugenio Ulian.   Discussion Leader:   Robert Birch
08:30 Erik Mirkov Progress and potential for sugarcane improvement through transgenic plant technologies
09:00 Gil Enríquez Sugarcane biotechnology and genetic engineering experience at CIGB
09:20 Bernie Carroll New DNA technologies provide insights into the molecular basis of somaclonal variation in sugarcane
09:40 Kerry Nutt Canegrub resistant transgenic sugarcane
10:00 Richard McQualter Virus derived transgenes confer resistance to Fiji disease in transgenic sugarcane plants
10:20 Morning tea  
Symposium.  Molecular to Market
Chair:  Colin Ryan
11:00 William Burnquist The sugarcane genome : What we know and what we don’t
11:25 Dani Zamir Phenotyping, fine mapping and cloning of a wild species QTL that increases horticultural yield in tomatoes
11:50 Gary Fitt Development and implementation of transgenic Bt cottons in Australia
12:15 Discussion.  Molecular to Market  
12:30 Lunch  
Session 4.  Sugarcane physiology: up close where the genome gets functional
Chair:  Frikkie Botha.   Discussion Leader:  Paul Moore
14:00 Chris Grof Molecular manipulation of sucrose metabolism
14:30 Frikkie Botha Sucrose metabolism in the culm of transgenic sugarcane with reduced soluble acid invertase activity
14:50 Jan-Hendrik Groenewald Down regulating pyrophosphate-dependent phosphofrukto-kinase (PFP) in sugarcane
15:10 Ewald Komor Sugar transport and sugar storage: a reappraisal of the importance of membrane transport in sugarcane performance
15:30 Afternoon tea  
16:00 Derek Watt Molecular analysis of aluminium toxicity responses in sugarcane roots
16:20 Discussion sessions 3 and 4  
17:30 Conclusion of session 4  
tba Workshop BBQ  


Thursday 20th September
Session 5. Molecular diagnosis and pathology: first generation successes
Chair:  Philippe Rott.  Discussion Leader:  Peter Allsopp
08:30 Grant Smith Progress and potential in sugarcane molecular pathology
09:00 Anthony James Implementation of molecular assays  for the routine screening of quarantined germplasm
09:20 Yong-Bao Pan PCR diagnosis of sugarcane leaf scald and ratoon stunting disease
09:40 Stuart Rutherford Differential gene expression in sugarcane in response to challenge by the fungal pathogen Ustilago scitaminea (Sydow) (sugarcane smut)
10:00 Lisa Heelan Quantitative assay of three fungal (Oomycete) pathogens of sugarcane using real time PCR
10:20 Morning tea  
11:00 Grant Smith The viral and phytoplasma forms of yellow leaf syndrome of sugarcane
11:20 Stevens Brumbley Molecular analysis of transposon mutants of Clavibacter xyli subsp. xyli 
11:40 Discussion  
12:30 Lunch  
Session 6.  Brief presentations of Molecular Biology Posters
Chair:  Robert Birch
14:00 Judith Candy The identification of differentially expressed genes in sugarcane following infection with Fiji disease fijivirus
14:03 Neil Bower Identification of markers of the defence response in sugarcane
14:06 Andres Ceron Genetic diversity in sugarcane hybrids bred in Colombia measured using molecular markers
14:09 Giovanni Cordeiro Microsatellites or Simple Sequence Repeats as valuable genetic markers in sugarcane
14:12 Zhang Mu-Qing Utility of SSRs for determining genetic similarities and relationships in Saccharum and its related species
1415 George Piperidis A microsatellite marker database for fingerprinting sugarcane clones
14:18 Mario Melgar Use of RAPD markers to detect genetic variability among 39 sugarcane varieties
14:21 Asha  Dookun Contribution of microsatellites to the sugarcane breeding program in Mauritius
14:24 Zhang Mu-Qing Photosynthetic gene expression in sugarcane grown under elevated CO2 and high temperature
1427 Zhang Mu-Qing Photosynthesis characteristics in eleven cultivars of sugarcane and their responses to water stress during the elongation stage
1430 Siripatr Prammanee Molecular cloning and sequencing of a unique DNA fragment present in sugarcane somaclonal variants selected for salt tolerance
14:33 Govind Rao Antigenic diversity, peptide profiling and coat protein sequencing relationship of a virus isolate causing mosaic disease of sugarcane in Uttar Pradesh, India
14:36 Laurelea Pickering The full-length genome of Sugarcane mosaic potyvirus strain A
14:39 Jason Geijskes Analysis of the genome of an Australian isolate of Sugarcane bacilliform badnavirus
14:42 Zara Borg Characterising the genetic diversity of  Sugarcane yellow leaf virus
14:45 Axel Lehrer Physiological consequences of Sugarcane yellow leaf virus infection on the sugarcane plant
14:48 Makoto Matsuoka Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation of sugarcane using cell suspension culture with a novel method
14:51 Dion Harrison Inheritance and expression of transgenes in sugarcane
14:54 Julie Waldron Tomato DNA sequences for resisting transgene silencing in sugarcane
14:57 Annathurai Gnanasambandam The challenge of protein targeting to the sugarcane vacuoles for metabolic engineering
15:00 Adrian Elliott Development of an ELISA technique for sensitive GFP quantification in transgenic sugarcane
15:03 Discussion and questions  
15:30 Afternoon tea  
Session 7.  Collaborative Opportunities
Chair: Frikkie Botha
16:00 Formation of working parties  
17:30 Conclusion of Session 7  
tba Congress Farewell Dinner  


Friday 21st September
09:30 Frikkie Botha Workshop report
10:30 Morning tea  
11:00 Congress Closing Session  
12:00 Depart Convention Centre for visit to BSES Laboratories
12:30 Start lab tour  
13:00 BBQ lunch at BSES  
15:00 Conclusion of lab tour and workshop
Processing Workshop, 19-20 September, 2001, Brisbane, Australia