Journal of Agricultural Chemistry and Environment, 2014, 3, 24-28
Published Online July 2014 in SciRes.
How to cite this paper: Rehman, A., Qamar, R. and Qamar, J. (2014) Economic Assessment of Sugarcane (Saccharum offi-
cinarum L.) through Intercropping. Journal of Agricultural Chemistry and Environment, 3, 24-28.
Economic Assessment of Sugarcane
(Saccharum officinarum L.) through
Abdul Rehman1*, Rafi Qamar2, Jamshaid Qamar1
1Department of Agronomy, University College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
2Agronomy Section, Central Cotton Research Institute, Sakrand, Sindh, Pakistan
Email: *
Received 28 April 2014
Sugarcane has pronounced importance to provide sugar for more than half of the global popula-
tion. World population is enhancing day-by-day and production land is in the worst situation. The
cultivated land is diminishing rapidly due to urbanization, road construction, and land deteriora-
tion. This crisis demands alternate research to raise crop productivity and maximize the economic
returns per unit land for feeding the gigantic population. Sugarcane is a long duration crop and
gave late net economic return. Intercropping in sugarcane received much attention and need to
properly manage for getting higher net return from same unit area. It is becoming popular among
farming community due to resourcefully utilization of land. Intercropping has the potential to in-
spire the farmers to get maximum economic return per acre per annum. For intercropping, wheat,
gram, soybean, and potato were used as an intercrop in September-sown sugarcane. Triple row
strip planting geometry of sugarcane with four intercropped (SC + Wheat, SC + Gram, SC + Soybean,
and SC + Potato) and check with sole SC was used. Sugarcane was planted during September 2011-
12 and 2012-13 at research area University College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha, Pakis-
tan. Randomized complete block design with three replications were used. Results showed that
number of millable cane, cane diameter; unstripped and stripped cane yield and crop growth rate
was significantly higher in sole sugarcane when compared with different intercrop in 2011-12
while trend was same in 2012-13. Cane diameter and un-stripped cane yield were statistically at
par of intercrops SC + Soybean and SC + Potato while stripped cane yield of Sole SC and SC + Potato
was statistically at par in 2012-13. In both the year of study, intercrops gave higher land equiva-
lent ratio and net return over sole sugarcane planted while sole sugarcane gave maximum benefit
cost ratio compared with other intercrops.
World Population Stress, Sugarcane, Intercropping, Economic Return, Benefit Cost Ratio
Corresponding author.
A. Rehman et al.
1. Introduction
Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum L.) is the main source of revenue in Pakistan after cotton and rice. It is a
source of providi ng raw ma terial to m any al lied industri es and em ployme nt [1]. Sugarc ane cont ributes 3.2% to th e
value added products in agriculture and 0.7% to gross domestic production [2]. Currently, the area under sugar-
cane is 1.12 million hectares and total production is 62.4 million tons with an average yield of 55.58 metric
ton·ha−1 [2]. Despite a higher yield potential, average stripped cane yield of sugarcane in Pakistan is well below
compare than sugarcane producing countries of the world [3]. There are several factors involved in yield stagna-
tion at farmer’s field. The most important cause is conventional planting method/geometry [4].
Triple row planting may be suitable and efficient planting system in saving water and reduce lodging due to
easiness in inter-cultural practice and earthing-up ope ration s [5]. Tr iple row str ip pla ntin g play s signi ficant r ole in
increasing plant population and stripped cane yield [6]. Sugarcane yield and yield attributes like tillers, plant
height, num ber o f m ill able canes an d str ippe d ca ne y iel d pr oduc ed by 1 20 cm a part tripl e row tre nch planti ng wa s
higher than 60 cm apart single row trenches [7]. A triple row spacing of 120 cm produced more total dry matter
and stripped cane yield over single row and double row spacing 60 and 90 cm but cane quality were alike with
different row spacing [8]. A triple row planting sugarcane with recommended seed rate gave maximum net in-
come/economic returns than conventional method of planting [9].
Intercropping has been known a tremendous practice to increase stripped cane yield, maximum net returns,
and better resources utilization and fulfill the demand of diversified farms. The gross monetary returns have
been recognized the highest from intercropping cane with potato and lowest from pure cane [10]. The conven-
tional methods of planting cane do not permit the intercrops to grow well due to shading and competition effect.
The popularity of intercropping systems on small growers in the developing countries and the demand for more
food has required intensive research on intercropping [11]. The contradictory yield results of different intercrops
were found in different studies [12]-[14].
There are not much reported studies on the different intercrops in sugarcane growing areas in Pakistan. The
present study was conducted with the following objective:
To explore the yield feasibility of sugarcane yield under different intercrops and its economics.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Experimental Site
The study regarding intercropping in spring planted sugarcane was conducted for two year during 2011-12 and
2012-13 on a loam soil at research area University College of Agriculture, University of Sargodha (32˚04'N,
72˚67'E), Pakistan. The climate of the region is s ubtro pica l sem i -arid with annual average rainfall of 400 ± 5 mm,
and more than 70% of the rainfall occurs during June-September (Source: Agro-Metrological Lab, University of
Sargodha). Mean monthly minimum temperature is 10˚C in January and maximum temperature is 40˚C in July.
The soil is the Hafizabad series (fine-silty, mixe d, hy pert herm ic typic calci argids ) a nd the soil textu re is loa m and
heavy loam [15]. Selected chemical and physical characteristics were done before sowing: pH 7.8 ± 0.1, electrical
conductivity 2.18 ± 0.3 dS∙m1, soil organic matter content 0.70%, total N 0.05%, available phosphorus 60
mg∙kg1 and exchangeable potassium 80 mg∙kg1.
2.2. Layout and the Experimental Design
The experiment was laid out according to triplicate randomized complete block design using three replications.
Net plot size was 4.2 m × 8.0 m for 120 cm spaced strips. The treatm ents comprised; sole sugarcane, SC + Wheat,
SC + Gram, SC + Soybean and SC + Potato (within 120 c m apart). Tr e n c he s we re made wit h the h elp o f tractor
drawn ridger.
2.3. Crop Husbandry
Sugarcane variety HSF-240 with seed rate of 75,000 double budded setts per hectare was sown in September
during 2011-12 and 2012-13. Fertilizer was applied at the rate of 175, 115 and 115 kg∙NPK∙ha1.
2.4. Statistical Analysis
Data were analyzed statistically using SAS [16]. The effects of intercropping were evaluated by the least signif-
A. Rehman et al.
icant difference (LSD) test at p 0. 05 unl ess ot herwi se me ntioned . The computer package MS-Excel was used to
prepare the g raphs.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Different Intercrops Effects on Sugarcane Yield and Land Equivalent Ratio
Sole SC and different intercrops in SC had significantly effect on all yield parameters during both the year
2011-12 and 2012-13 (Table 1). In 2011-12, sole SC had significantly 8% higher millable cane (14.3 m2)
compared than SC + Potato while in case of intercrops, SC + Gram gave significantly 3%, 4%, and 5% higher
millable cane than SC + Wheat, SC + Soybean and SC + Potato. In second year 2012-13 same trend was observed
while lower number of millable cane (12.9 m2) was recorded in SC + Soybean than other intercrops. Sole SC
produce d signi ficant ly 6% higher c ane diam eter than SC + Wheat. Howev er, SC + Potat o had s ignifi cant ly highe r
cane diameter than SC + Gram, SC + Soybean and SC + Wheat in 2011-12. In sec on d year sa me tre nd wa s n oted
while cane stem diameter of SC + Potato and SC + Soybean was statistic ally at par with each other. In both the
years of study, significantly higher unstriped cane yield (121.8 t∙ha1 and 120.2 t∙ha1) was noted in sole SC
compared than SC + Wheat (113.6 t∙ha1 and 112.8 t∙ha1). Among intercrops treatment of 2011-12, SC + Gram
had 1%, 2% and 4% hi gher than SC + Potato , SC + Soybe an and SC + Wheat. I n 2012-13, unstripped cane yield of
intercr ops SC + G ram had 1% , 2% an d 4 % hig her t ha n SC + Pot at o, SC + S oybe a n a nd SC + Wh eat . Dur i ng bot h
the year of study significantly higher stripped cane yield (102.43 t∙ha1 and 100.9 t∙ha1) was noted in Sole SC and
significantly lower stripped cane yield (95.30 t∙ha1) in SC + Gram dur ing first year wh ile SC + Whe at and S C +
Soybean i n se con d year . Duri ng 2 012 -13, stripped cane yield of Sole SC was statistically at par with SC + Potato.
In first year of study, SC + Gram produced significantly 2%, 3% and 4% higher stripped cane yield than SC +
Potato, SC + Soy bean a nd SC + Wheat . During 2011 -12 and 2012-13, land equivalent ratio (LER) of Sole SC and
different intercrops in SC are presented in Table 1. However, LER of different intercrops were in range between
1.53 and 1.61 during study period. In other words, the intercrops yield advantages varied from 53% to 61% re-
spectively. It could be inferred, that advantage due to intercrops per hectare yields were equal to sole SC yields
obtained from 1.53 to 1.61 hectares. The highest LER of 1.61 was recorded for SC + Wheat intercrop geometry
during 2011-12 and 2012-13. The lowes t LER of 1.5 3 and 1.5 4 was obser ved in SC + Potato int ercrop tre atment in
both the growing season.
All yield parameters number of millable cane, cane diameter, unstripped and striped cane yield were noted
significantly higher in sole SC compared than different intercrops in SC. Significan tly higher yield attributes in
sole SC was due to availability of sufficient soil nutrients and there was no c rop com petiti on [12] [17]. Am ong the
intercr op s , higher number o f milla ble cane in gram was du e to restora tive i n n a ture an d lower number o f milla bl e
cane was note d in potat o [11]. The di fference in cane diam eter am ong diffe rent interc rops was at tributed to nature
of intercrops and available size of spacing area [18]. Raskar and Bhoi [8] also observed same trend due to variation
in cane diameter with differe nt interc rops. Signi ficantly, higher unst ripped a nd stripped cane yiel d was recor ded in
SC + Gram rather than other i ntercro ps was due to upta ke and a vailabil ity of residual nutrie nts which was done by
the plants roots [19] and row spacing [20]. The LER of different intercrops compared to their sole SC was found
higher. T his showe d that diffe rent intercrops geom etries were biologically more efficient as compared to their sole
SC. It revealed that to produce the combined mixture yield by growing sole stands would need 53% - 61% more
land. Our results supported the findings of [21] [22].
3.2. Different Intercrops Effects on Sugarcane Economics
The economic benefits got from diff erent intercrops SC planting was compared w ith the sole SC (Tab le 2). The
data presented in Table 2 revealed that all the intercrop treatments increased the net return from sole SC. The
highest net return (Rs. 450244 ha−1 and Rs. 486429 ha−1) was obtained from SC + Potato during 2011-12 and
2012-13. The next highest net return (Rs. 433763 ha−1 and Rs. 415280 ha−1) and (Rs. 431924 ha−1 and Rs. 399735
ha−1) were given by the int e rc rops of S C + Wheat a n d SC + Gra m duri n g both t he y e a rs, respe c t ively. I n 2011-12
and 2012-13, the lowest net return (Rs. 365121 ha−1 and Rs. 333797 ha−1) was noted at sole S C. Du ring 20 11-12
and 2012-13, maximum benefit cost ratio (5.40 and 5.02) was noted at sole SC while minimum benefit cost ratio in
SC + Soybea n (5.17 and 4. 90) was observe d. T he sol e S C produced 2% - 4% greater BCR than different intercrops.
The net return from different treatments was calculated by subtracting the total cost of production for each
treatment from its gross income. Higher values of net returns/net income was obtained from different intercrops
A. Rehman et al.
Table 1. Effect of different in tercrops on number of millable canes, cane diam eter, unstripped and stripped cane yield and land
equivalent ratio of irrigated sugarcane (data of 2011-12 and 2012-13 growing season).
Number of millable
Canes (m−2) Cane stem
diameter (cm) Unstripped
cane yield (t ha−1) Stripped cane
yield (tha−1) Land
equivalent ratio
2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13
Sole SC 14.3aΨ 14.0a 2.08a 2.02a 121.8a 120.2a 102.4a 100.9a 1.0 1.0
SC + Wheat 13.4c 13.1c 1.96e 1.92c 113.6e 112.8d 96.3e 96.0c 1.61 1.61
SC + Gram 13.9b 14.0a 1.99c 1.96b 118.5b 118.1b 99.7b 98.6b 1.56 1.55
SC + Soybean 13.3d 12.9d 1.97d 1.96b 116.1d 115.7c 96.5d 95.9c 1.55 1.55
SC + Potato 13.2e 13.2b 2.01b 1.98b 116.9c 115.9c 98.1c 99.3ab 1.53 1.54
LSD p ≤ 0.05 0.033 0.035 0.035 0.035 0.048 2.062 0.064 2.06
SC = Sugar cane. SC + Wheat = Sugarcane-wh eat intercropping . SC + Gram = Sug arcane-gram intercropping. SC + Soybean = Sugarcane-soybean
intercropping. SC + Potato = Sugarcane-potato intercropping. ΨMeans separated by lower case letter in each column are si gni fic a ntly diffe re nt a m ong
intercropping at p 0.05.
Table 2. Economics of various intercrop combination in September sown sugarcane (data of 2011-12 and 2012-13 growing
Intercropping Gross Income (Rsha−1) Total Cost (Rsha−1) Net Returns (Rsha−1) Benefit Cost Ratio
2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13 2011-12 2012-13
Sole SC 448,175 416,910 83,054 83,113 365,121 333,797 5.40 5.02
SC + Wheat 537,335 518,892 103,572 103,612 433,763 415,280 5.18 5.01
SC + Gram 532,823 500,659 100,899 100,924 431,924 399,735 5.28 4.96
SC + Soybean 508,199 480,946 98,120 98,165 410,079 382,781 5.17 4.90
SC + Potato 556,021 592,254 105,777 105,825 450,244 486,429 5.25 5.60
SC = Sugar cane. SC + Wheat = Sugarcane-wh eat intercropping . SC + Gram = Sug arcane-gram intercropping. SC + Soybean = Sugarcane-soybean
intercropping. SC + Potato = Sugarcane-potato intercropping.
than sole SC. Benefit cost ratio is another important economic parameter in which farmers are interested to see the
gain in net re turns with a give n increa se in t ota l costs . Our findi ngs sup port ed the result s of [ 11] w ho rep orted t hat
all the intercrops gave higher net return and lower benefit cost ratio compared than sole SC.
4. Conclusion
Sugarcane is an important cash crop of Pakistan. It has pivotal role in the growth of sugar industry, uplifting the
socio-economic conditions of farmers, and contributing in the economic development. Intercropping has been
recognized an excellent and alternative way to future crop production under threat of land, population and high
monetary returns. The present study revealed that the sole SC gave more than 6% and 13% higher stripped cane
yield and CGR than all intercrop tr eatments. Higher values of LER we re noted in SC + Wheat than other treat-
ments. Maximum net returns was obtained in SC + Potato than other intercrops and sole SC while maximum
BCR was noted in sole SC. Based on economics, it is recommended that resource poor farmers grow only sole
sugarcane while resource rich farmers prefer to grow SC + Potato due to high returns.
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SC = Sugarcane;
CGR = Crop Growth Rate;
LER = Land Equiv alent Ratio;
BCR = Benefit Cost Ratio.