Sugar Tech

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 29–37 | Cite as

Dimensioning the Impact of Irrigation on Sugarcane Yield in Brazil

  • Henrique Boriolo DiasEmail author
  • Paulo Cesar Sentelhas
Research Article


Water deficit is one of the main causes of sugarcane yield limitation around the world. Sugarcane simulation models can be used to evaluate the impact of irrigation on yield where water deficit causes important losses. The aim of this study was to dimension the potential of irrigation on sugarcane yield in different Brazilian regions, by comparing yields simulated by a calibrated FAO-AZM model under rainfed and irrigated conditions, considering different levels of crop water supply. Simulations were run for 12-month plant cane yield planted every month along the year. Three different soil types with low, medium and high soil water holding capacities were considered for 29 locations in Brazil, considering a 30-year weather data series. Irrigation was applied to cover 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100% of the crop water deficit, with the highest level corresponding to full irrigation to obtain potential yield. The results showed that yield increases depend on the interaction between climate type, weather conditions, soil physical properties, planting date and level of irrigation. The soil with low water holding capacity was the one with the largest response to irrigation. On the coast of Northeastern Brazil, sugarcane planted between March and June was those which were more responsive to irrigation. On the other hand, in the producing regions in the interior of the country, the planting dates with higher responses to irrigation were between October and January. This study proved that irrigation is an important strategy to improve sugarcane yield even in the regions where irrigation is currently not recommended.


Saccharum spp. Crop simulation models FAO Agro-ecological Zone model Water deficit Deficit irrigation Full irrigation 



We are thankful to the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) for the Master scholarship of first author (Grant#2014/05173-3). The second author is a CNPq research fellow, level 1B.

Authors’ contributions

HBD and PCS were both responsible for designing the study, preparing the dataset, analyzing the data, discussing the results and writing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society for Sugar Research & Promotion 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.“Luiz de Queiroz” College of AgricultureUniversity of São PauloPiracicabaBrazil

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