Manual weeding/ interculture in sugarcane is a common method adopted by the farmers, in Tarai region of Uttarakhand, for weed control. However, due to non- availability of labour especially during peak season, the weeding/interculture operation is jeopardized. Also the labour demand in sugarcane weeding is very high compared to other cereal crops making this operation expensive. This study includes comparative performance evaluation of three different types of equipment, namely rotary tiller (T1S -single pass and T1D - two pass of rotary tiller), cultivator (T2) and rotavator (T3) for weeding operation in sugarcane. It was also compared with manual method of weed control (T4) including the cost economics. The result revealed that among the mechanical methods, the highest weeding efficiency (93.20%) was obtained in T1D followed by T1S (88.01%), T3 (87.97%) and T2 (83.22%). The plant damage was observed highest (3.67%) in T2 compared to T3 (2.63%), T1D (1.83) and T1S (1.11%). Cost of weeding operation was found minimum (INR 374.37 per ha) for treatment T2 followed by T3 (INR 507.27 per ha), T1 (INR 1186.18 per ha) and T4 (INR 13194.55 per ha). The reduction in cost of weeding over the conventional method was found highest (97.16%) in T2 followed by T3 (96.16%) and T1 (91.01%). The use of rotary tiller can be recommended to the farmer for weed management in sugarcane even at later stage of the crop when plant is tall enough making use of other equipment unfeasible.
Key words: Rotary tiller, intra-row weeder, cultivator, rotavator, manual weeding, mechanical weeding, sugarcane, economics.
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