“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”
- Benjamin Franklin
Farmers have watered their crops for millennia based on the feel of the soil. Stick your finger down a few inches and if it’s dry, add water.
Unfortunately, 50 percent of this water is wicked away by the sun and wind before it reaches the plant. At Prosperity, we found a solution to this problem in the valley of the River Jordan in the Middle East, where farmers with scant water resources have been raising food in the desert for decades.
We invested $400,000 to install 2 miles of automated irrigation emitters beneath the soil, feeding cane plants with an even, reliable supply of water and nutrients straight to the root system – as a back-up to mother nature. The result is about a fourfold increase in crop yield and a twofold savings in water and fertilizer that would otherwise be lost to evaporation and runoff.
On Puerto Rico, farmers have a different problem; not too little water but too much too fast, flooding the land. Here Raising Cane has repaired three miles of hurricane-damaged drainage canals in the Coloso Valley, making the land viable again for farming.
We are eager to undertake other infrastructure projects, too, as and when our island governments desire.
For example, we have proposed to restore St. Croix’s Creque Agriculture Hydro Facility. This pipeline once provided irrigation water for west-side farmers. With matching U.S. Department of Agriculture funds, it can do so again, bringing not only water but subsurface irrigation to our farming neighbors.
Sugar cane like corn lends itself to the production efficiencies of modern farming. Drawing on technologies used in the American heartland, Raising Cane has invested in automated equipment and data-driven infrastructure to share with our fellow Caribbean farmers, and to create skilled, well-paying jobs in agriculture.
These technologies help us solve the environmental challenges of water use and climate change, as well as the human challenges of fair labor and equity.
Prosperity and Coloso employ 20 full-time team members, 10 on each island, and each person earns a professional salary far beyond the minimum-wage that is still so common in agriculture today.
If you could peer into the bud on a stalk of sugarcane, you would see a new plant inside of it, rolled up like a child inside its mother. When we harvest the stalks and plant them in a few inches of soil, up comes the next crop, for as many as eight generations.
Our automated harvesters are wonder-machines that accomplish in an hour what used to take days by hand – with one exception: the bud is often damaged in the process.
Raising Cane gifted about $500,000 for robotics research at Massachusetts Institute for Technology to see if harvest technology can be made to 'see' and cut more carefully with computer imaging.
If an agriculture school isn’t teaching geospatial positioning and hydraulics for tractors, it's relegating students to farm with brute strength.
With a generous donation from Raising Cane, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez is developing a high tech precision agriculture curriculum to assure that future farmers are armed with data and technical knowhow.
Raising Cane teams at both farms are invited to learn on the job regardless of their position, and we welcome ag students and farmers from around the world to visit us and exchange knowledge and experiences, helping to build a center of agriculture for the next generation.