SUSTAINABLE SUGARCANE CROPPING IN CHINA
1. Key Laboratory of Sugarcane Biotechnology and Genetic Improvement (Guangxi), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Guangxi Key Laboratory of Sugarcane Genetic Improvement, Sugarcane Research Institute, Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanning 530007, China
2. Interdisciplinary Research Center for Agriculture Green Development in Yangtze River Basin, College of Resources and Environment, Southwest University, Chongqing 400716, China
3. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, University of Queensland, St Lucia 4067, QLD, Australia
4. Center for Resources, Environment and Food Security, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, ChinaAvailable online：2022-04-12
Demand for sugar is projected to grow in China for the foreseeable future. However, sugarcane production is unlikely to increase due to increasing production cost and decreasing profit margin. The persisting sugarcane yield plateau and the current cropping system with fertilizer overuse, soil acidification and pests and diseases remain the major productivity constraints. Sugarcane agriculture supports the livelihood of about 28 million farmers in South China; hence, sustaining it is a socioeconomic imperative. More compellingly, to meet the ever-increasing Chinese market demand, annual sugar production must be increased from the current 10 Mt to 16 Mt by 2030 of which 80% to 90% comes from sugarcane. Therefore, increasing sugar yield and crop productivity in an environmentally sustainable way must be a priority. This review examines the current Chinese sugarcane production system and discuss options for its transition to a green, sustainable cropping system, which is vital for the long-term viability of the industry. This analysis shows that reducing chemical inputs, preventing soil degradation, improving soil health, managing water deficit, provision of clean planting material, and consolidation of small farm holdings are critical requirements to transform the current farming practices into an economically and environmentally sustainable sugarcane cropping system.