IntercropVALUES project is present on Reunion Island through the involvement of two partners: eRcane and CIRAD. As part of their participation in the project, and the activities they develop in Co-Innovation Case Study (CICS) 7, they are working with 4 farmers to co-design a low herbicide sugarcane system using intercropping. They have prepared a video that serves as a guide for farmers on how to use service crops in the field.

What is the context of sugarcane production?

Sugarcane is the primary crop on Reunion Island, covering half of the island’s agricultural land. It faces constant weed pressure due to the tropical climate. Weeds are present year-round, posing a challenge for sugarcane cultivation.

Most of the time, farmers use chemical methods to control weeds. However, some weed species require manual removal. Recently, due to fewer authorized herbicides, farmers are exploring additional ways to reduce herbicide use in their fields.

Why service crops have to be develop?

Researchers from CIRAD and eRcane have studied service crops in sugarcane production for ten years. Their findings indicate that by using service crops, herbicide application frequency can be reduced by 80% while maintaining effective weed management. Nevertheless, this approach may lead to slight yield losses and increased labor requirements.

Why it is so difficult to develop ?

While service crops are effective for weed control, only a few farmers use this method. The main reasons are the scarcity of available seeds in the local market and the additional labor required.

What is the benefit of the intercropVALUES project for La Réunion?

The IntercropVALUES project in La Réunion aims to identify technical and economic challenges and opportunities related to introducing service crops. Researchers collaborate with four farmers to co-designing a technical itinerary that could be shared for the development of legume intercropping in sugar cane. The project also facilitates knowledge exchange and transfer between research and farmers. As a result, this video serves as a foundation for farmers to conduct plot trials, comparing service crops to their current practices.

This news item was written by Thomas Lizekne, project manager at eRcane (La Réunion, France)