32% Less Cane Supply – Remote Sensing can help Sugar Factories

This season 2015-16, with drought hitting major Sugarcane states, India’s sugar production has declined significantly compared to last season 2014-15. With exception of low single digit factories still crushing cane in Maharashtra and Karnataka, all major sugar producing states have declared end of the crushing season. With the ongoing severe drought situation across the country speculation around the sugar cane availability, price of sugarcane and sugar are flooding the media, clearly the situation is grim.

We from NubeSol Technologies (a precision agriculture start up) would like to bring some transparency to the reports being published through the use of our advanced technology platform based on Remote Sensing Technology (RST). The report assimilates satellite based Remote Sensed Data using patented algorithms spatial temporal crop analysis, ground surveys, interactions with farmers, company cane officers, association industry bodies. The report brings clarity on the Karnataka sugarcane supply status and highlights the risks and challenges up ahead for the coming season. As we stand today, looks like, the sugar price is in competition with the mercury this summer, both of them putting common man in uncomfortable situation. The sugar story of Karnataka is not much different compared to other states.

Using our patented algorithms and satellite imagery database spanning over 3 years, we have conducted an extensive study of Karnataka sugarcane estate to derive accurate sugarcane acreages. We measure a total of 14.2+ lakh acres of sugarcane cultivation, spread over 21 districts of Karnataka.

As per our Remote sensed data analysis, we forecast the availability of the sugarcane supply for FY2016-17 to decline by 30%-32% compared to FY2015-16 season.

Major factors affecting the supply are –

  • Diversion to other crops
  • Shortage of new plantation – We have recorded only 1:100 plots going for sugarcane planting as compared to 20:100 ratio recorded earlier.
  • Extended thermal stress – In some region especially around Mudhol, Raibag, Athani, Chikodi onset of timely monsoon will help to verify the survivability of the ratoon2 and ratoon3 crops for the next season
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As sugarcane yield is directly proportional to availability of water, NubeSol also monitors the major water bodies supporting the sugarcane belt. The water situation in north Karnataka is worrying, compared to April ’15 all the water bodies supporting Karnataka sugarcane belt are in deep stress. Namely, Renuka Sagar reservoir, Almatti dam, Hidkal dam, Shirur dam, Tigadi dam. Canals originating from these reservoirs irrigate 8+ Lakh acres of sugarcane in Karnataka. Hence the health of these water bodies is very vital to the sugarcane productivity.
Below image showcasing reduction in water surface area in Hidkal reservoir, When compared April of 2016 with 2015

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Hidkal Dam Catchment Area Comparison – April 2015 to April 2016

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Spatial maps presented above shows the vegetation stress compared to last year for two of the taluks in sugarcane belt of north Karnataka. The cumulative index (soil moisture, plant stress measured at different levels) indicates the net vegetation stress in the region which is directly proportional to growth and yield prospects of the plants.

As of now, it is evident factories will continue to face the challenge of limited cane supply this year as well. Thus companies have to find new and innovative ways to find cane economically.

NubeSol Technologies, Remote Sensing platform can be a great pain reliever in identifying the cane areas and measuring accurate cane acreages. NubeSol can provide reports to the level of last entity in the chain which is plot level data, Yield prospects.

Major challenges faced by sugar factories:

1. Factories have crushed less cane – About 30% of the factories have crushed cane less than 120 days which is a normal season average for the industry (Impact – Top line)

2. High harvest and transport costs – This season we have come across factories who have picked up cane from as far as 100-120 KMs from the factory as against a profitable zone of 30-35 KMs (Impact – Bottomline)

3. Loop holes in traditional way of cane surveying – Factories are oblivious to the fact that there is more cane available in and around the factory just few kilometres away. They depend only on traditional and manual way of surveying the cane availability which is not fool proof and accurate thus factories miss out on cane available in and around the factory (Impact – both)

Nubesol Technologies using its patented algorithm is helping factories to identify exact cane areas and forecast plot by plot with accurate cane acreages. Advanced technology platform also helps in accurately forecasting optimum maturity dates of each cane plot.

  • With the knowledge of accurate cane areas, cane acreages and maturity dates, factories can plan the entire crushing season well in advance. They can engage the farmers proactively. In fact in some reasons factories not knowing the cane availability has impacted farmers adversely.

“An example from this season – Kalghatgi Taluk had grown excessive cane beyond the crushing capacities of regular factories in the vicinity. Hence there were long wait periods for the farmers to harvest as no factory was aware of the cane availability in this region. NubeSol with its ability to pinpoint the cane had advised this cane story to some factories which were on the 80 kilometre periphery. Those factories got benefitted by getting more (unplanned) cane from this region to crush. “We strongly believe without our advanced technology platform intervention both farmers and factories would have suffered losses just due to lack of on the ground information”

  • NubeSol’s ongoing cane disposal reports during the entire crushing season will help factories to understand and be aware of the on ground cane balances during the season.
  • Factories can use the data to efficiently book the cane to avoid long distance plots. Shorter distance not only helps to significantly optimize the harvest and transport cost but more importantly will positively impact the sugar recovery as the cane will get crushed faster from the time of harvest. NubeSol’s Efficient Logistic module will help factories to achieve this objective.
  • NubeSol’s Crop Information Management System (CIMS) is developed for crop health management and grower advisory services. It also serves as grower and land record management system. Taking the advantage of having a plot level data, CIMS can monitor the health of the cane all through the growth stage. Through CIMS, factory field officers/ staff will have access to variety of data on farmer, crop, land and payments made on their fingertips on smart phones and/or tablets. CIMS mobile and Tablet application are designed and built to work in no signal zone as well. Using the feeds of remote sensing, CIMS keeps sending the alerts (via SMS) to farmers on crop advisories, yield threats, harvest management, payments etc.

This suite of products from NubeSol Technologies can help both sugar factories and sugarcane growers. Factories to find right cane areas, forecast accurate cane acreages in their area, recover more sugar at reduced operational cost, manage grower loyalty by giving in time advisory services and helps grower to get better sugarcane yield per acre at reduced fertilizer cost.

One thought on “32% Less Cane Supply – Remote Sensing can help Sugar Factories

  1. Your survey is going to to be eye opener for north Karnataka sugar factories.Timely survey result will certainly help sugar industry in many ways.

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