3 optimization strategies for the sugarcane industry

The smallest unit of management is a single field, and this is the granularity at which growers can really have an impact on yield outcomes. Production zone level management is responsible for managing outcomes from many fields, and often sink resources into small performance gains on bad performers, while failing to capture yield potential on high performers. There are several classes of optimization problems in sugarcane:

Sugarcane fields

  1. Removing human error from total mill yield forecasts. It is common for production to miss estimates one year, and farm crews respond on average by lowering their estimates the following year. This increases the uncertainty in budgeting both on bad years and great ones. With Digital Harvest, yield estimates are continuously updated throughout the year and with increasing accuracy over time, providing greater certainty for budgeting, planning, and saving field crews time.

  2. Harvest scheduling. In the two months prior to harvest, ripeners are applied and irrigation is controlled to facilitate sucrose production, these need to be done at the right times, and in the right quantities to maximize return on costs. Field level yield predictions, made as accurately as possible, on a 2 month time horizon is critical to this level of optimization. Digital Harvest can help you know which fields are more ready to be harvested so you can get the optimum yield. But more importantly, we project this information far enough into the future to completely avoid the situation of not knowing when to apply ripener and control irrigation.

  3. Some fields have inherent soil and environmental characteristics that may grant higher or lower yield potentials, and that fields reach these levels of potential on varying time frames. For example, a grower may focus significant effort and resources on a bad field “A”, and raise yield from 50 to 55 tons by delaying harvest. To fill the schedule, field “B” was harvested earlier at 140 tons. This wasn’t a good decision if we know that field "B" would have produced more than 145 tons if it had been harvested on the later planned date. The earlier a field is harvested this season, the more growing time that cane can have for next season. With Digital Harvest, we can optimize schedules for your entire mill with multi-season considerations to compound yield gains over time.

Try our tools yourself applying to our Sugarcane Incentive Program in and find out how Digital Harvest can be the solution you were looking for your sugarcane mill.