The application of digital solutions to encourage the use of biological products and special fertilizers to increase yields in Brazil
Mar. 25, 2021
In my previous article, I had the opportunity to write about the growth of Biological products in Brazil for the control of pests and diseases, and I mentioned that one of the biggest problems that this market will face for greater growth is the difficulty of showing farmers how much these products can help to control and increase productivity.
This will be even more difficult in the future, several companies are entering this market, which will increase significantly the competition, and as we know, entry into this market is easier than in the crop protection market. These several companies will emerge with low-quality products, resulting in a lack of credibility and low efficacy, a scenario that we have been seen in the bio-stimulants and special fertilizers market. This excessive competition without control of quality and know-how, will increase the lack of credibility and an environment of distrust and sometimes even in a tone of playfulness.
Knowing the importance of these products for agriculture, I have searched in my contacts and in the literature, which solutions can be used to generate recommendations that can assure agronomists and farmers the best efficiency, the best use of these products, and which of these solutions are the most open and simple to everyone. The control with Biological products needs to be preventive, constant, and in association with other control tools such as chemicals, crop rotation, etc., and for that, we need to know in more detail the history of the areas, which crops were planted, and the last yields, all these pieces of information are necessary to improve our recommendation and the use of these products.
The same happens with the bio-stimulants and special fertilizers market, where due to our poor soils, our short-cycle varieties, and the planting of 2-3 crops a year, the use of these products are rational and inevitable but need to answer some questions?
How to make the best recommendation?
How to know the right moment of application?
What is the best product?
It is the right moment to correct?
In this search for these solutions, the one that I liked the most so far was the 6th Grain (Digital tools company), which with concepts such as identification of plantations through satellite images, use of learning machine, modeling, and artificial intelligence have been tested at Sinagro Distributor. They already have validated and calibrated solutions for the 28 locations served by Sinagro during the 2020 season, and with very promising results.
The name of this digital solution is the Optimal Growth Curve, which can be used by agronomists to improve their recommendation (agronomist can monitoring one infinity of fields with a lot of precision in real-time), by the farmer to know what is going on in each field of his farm compared to other fields from other farms in the same region in real-time, or the evolution of his planting throughout the harvest, or even, for companies that want to demonstrate the effectiveness of their products and compeer different protocols. The 6th Grain tools allow the farmers, agronomists, etc. to have an overview of what is going on in real-time and if necessary, this tool informs any deviation providing enough time to them do the appropriate correction before it will be too late.
The solution allows you to check if your hectare/plot is above or below the previous yield curves (up to 5 years if you have the right data to feed the tool) compared within the same field and from the neighbors of your planting location or other farmers if they insert their data in the tool, that is, based on the records of fields. We have a great range of crops, varieties, locations, and the farmers can compare their own performance, with the region and every information is discreet and nobody knows who is who, just average of the best field compared with your field.
The solution combines the historic vegetation, the phytosanitary, and overall crop health of each area/plot in a range (excluding dispersive and outliers), and that will be used to evaluate the performance of a field within a crop.
Assuming that, if that field or field leaves the limits of this range, an alert will be sent to the field manager, to the distribution agronomist, and the farmer, advising that field will have a deviation from the yield compared to the average yield. With that in hand, the customer/farmer and Sinagro’s agronomists can take corrective measures, whether with the use of bio-stimulants, greater foliar fertilization, better control of pests and diseases, and even preventive solutions such as better management of this field for subsequent harvests, all these in real-time.
I, as an agronomist, always had a certain “envy” of doctors for not having devices that give us diagnoses in real-time. The Optimal Growth Curve is a true tomography device for us.
See the example below from one of Sinagro's Farmer:
In this client, when monitoring remote sensing images for each pixel throughout the season, the curve tool estimated how the plantation canopy is evolving over the season (strong line in dark blue), compared to a "great" field and with known income in previous years (3 - 5 years / light blue band). In the case above, we have average yields estimated at 3.7 t/ ha with the dispersions of the years indicated in the light blue band.
Real time evolution shows us how the productivity curve is behaving, which gives us all the information to take the necessary measures. In the case of this property, the productivity curve has always been within the ideal range and in the end, it reached 3.8 T/ha, showing that the protocols and recommendations were very assertive.
About the 6G INDEX
With this tool, it becomes possible to perceive and make corrections in real time (According to the most appropriate technical recommendation of your Agronomist), and no longer need to wait after knowing the result to try to understand what happened so as not to make the same mistakes in the next season.
Another’s example of Historical Crop Performance Band and individuals Field Performance monitored in Mato Grosso – Brazil during 2020 season.
In addition to the productivity progress curves, we can obtain the seasonal variation of the cultivated area and production, estimates of total production by region and sub-region, and also the use of algorithms and learning machines to remove the impact of clouds and extend the curve to the present day, this artifice is better than any other solution that I have seen in others digital solutions.
With this information, Sinagro is able today to identify which fields perform better and which are constantly better than the average, highlights these fields and helps decision-makers to plan the next planting activities, the adoption of protocols, the products with better performances and measures that can help all its customers to have the best results, and what is better, having continuous improvement.
In my opinion, and with all my recent learning with digital solutions, Sinagro, under the leadership of its New Business Manager, Elder Bruno, is one step forward in Brazil and it is really democratizing the digital solutions through its program called SINCONECTA where 6th Grain is their platform.
This program comes in its essence, simplifying and translating technologies both for its agronomists, as well as for its farmers and partner companies, creating an environment for the exchange of experiences, constant adoptions of best practices, and continuous improvement.
For the Biological and Bio-stimulant companies, I suggest:
Build a strong research and development program with innovative and differentiated products
Strong Brand positioning based in reputation, quality and reliability
Expert Team and the urgent use of these digital solutions.
These three things can help a lot an accelerated growth of the market and the importance and advantages of using these products and their results.
It is very easy to demonstrate the effectiveness of a Herbicide and an insecticide, where we can see the weeds and the insects. Fungicides, Nematicides, Biological products, and Special nutrients are much more difficult, and most of the time we will only know at the end of the harvest, which can be very late. This real-time solution can help a lot to bring the same security, trust, and credibility to these products.
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