Alternative weeding methods

Research under way on this topic is carried out in the framework of two projects:

  • the CanécoH or Dephy Expé sugarcane project under the ECOPHYTO plan, where innovative sugarcane systems with low herbicide input are tested and assessed, while seeking to preserve their technical and economic performance, in an agroecological approach involving the use of cover crops, for instance.
  • the AgriécoH project, an Ecophyto experimentation project involving innovative micromechanization techniques to reduce herbicide use in sugarcane crop fields.

These two projects are based on tests conducted in experimental stations or are co-designed with sugarcane growers. The approach takes the expectations and constraints of each partner into account.

Other trials are being carried out in partnership with the organizations involved in the projects: EPLEFPA FORMA’TERRA, CerFrance, CIRAD, Réunion Agricultural Council.

Among the systems already tested or being tested:

  • sowing of cover crops in sugarcane interrows;
  • assessment of alternative weed control methods to full chemical control (mechanical weed control with and without tillage);
  • impact of mulch management on weed cover;
  • cover crops between sugarcane crop cycles;
  • varietal impact on weed cover dynamics.

Further tests on thermal weeding (hot water vapour) have been under way since early 2019. They aim to evaluate this practice in the agricultural conditions that prevail in Réunion.