The Guatemala Sugar Industry has relied on research and science to be more environmentally sustainable for the planting and harvesting of sugarcane. An example of this is the development and implementation of practices for the conservation and sustainable use of soil.
Since 2012, the Sugar Industry has worked hand in hand with the Guatemalan Center for Research and Training of Sugar Cane -Cengicaña- and the Private Institute for Research on Climate Change -ICC- on practices to stop or prevent erosion, conserve soil, and improve their fertility and productivity.
Reuse of waste as organic fertilizer
During the production of sugar, significant amounts of organic waste are generated as byproducts that have a high agronomic value, including filter mud, ash, and vinasse. Cengicaña scientists discovered that applying these byproducts to the soil improves its physical, chemical, and biological properties.
For example, filter mud is a residue from the manufacture of sugar and provides phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen, among others. It is estimated that each harvest produces more than 750,000 tons of this residue that is used to nourish fields.
Vinasse is a liquid residue from the distillation of alcohol and is mainly made up of water, organic matter and minerals that benefit the soil. Just as ash, mixed with filter mud, is beneficial for acidic soils, which favors greater availability of nutrients for plants and generally improves soil health.
Green fertilizer program
Just as they use organic fertilizers, the Sugar Industry also uses green fertilizers, an ecological measure of planting legume plants that provide the soil with nitrogen for nutrition in an ecological and environmentally friendly way.
When legumes are mixed with the soil, they provide organic matter that improves the texture and structure of the soil and promotes the development of microorganisms that are beneficial to crops.
All these good practices are promoted by Cengicaña with the aim of comprehensively using biological and organic elements that are sustainable with the environment for the cultivation of sugarcane.