Brazil is the largest sugarcane producer in the world, and most of its farms are located in the state of São Paulo, where processing plants are producing sugar and ethanol.
Hexagon’s Smart Agriculture solution is helping ethanol and sugar producers, like Guaíra Sugar Mill, increase crop yield and optimize the performance of workers and machines through improved production and plantation designs based on available land, topography and ideal planting time.
Guaíra Sugar Mill is an award winning mill and electric energy producer. Founded in 1981, Guaíra distillers started out producing 120 000 liters of ethanol a day. Today, 2 700 workers produce 480 000 liters and 1 000 tons of sugar per day to supply the Brazilian, European, African, Middle Eastern, Chinese and Russian markets.
Sugarcane is a perennial crop, whose mature multiple stems can be harvested for five to six years with good productivity if managed correctly. Without proper irrigation or precision agriculture, harvest productivity can be quite a challenge. Maximizing harvest potential also requires keeping harvesting machines from running over the plant lines and killing the cane stems. The use of an autopilot in the machines can reduce this loss, but without proper interpretation and handling of the line information, this benefit is limited.
The growing demand for ethanol in a highly competitive market has created a perfect opportunity for the early adoption of precision agriculture. Our Smart Agriculture solution not only optimizes the utilization of land and water, but fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and other farming resources.
Utilizing geo-processing software from Intergraph® and steering solutions from Leica Geosystems, Smart Agriculture keeps farmers abreast of crop management and production through digital workflows created from geo-enabled data.
Using Intergraph GeoMedia® software, Smart Agriculture helped Guaíra Sugar Mill map land in a geo-referenced database with precise representation of field limits, water resources, roads and infrastructure for electricity and waste management. The topography of the land was optimized to create manageable farming areas.
Initially, planting lines should follow the topography of the terrain to guarantee a proper water supply for the sugarcane. Smart Agriculture helped the mill’s designer create multiple line alternatives and select the best set of lines to be sent to the autopilots. As the designed lines became an important asset of the farm, the solution allows users to store the planted lines in a database for future use in harvesting.
Smart Agriculture can estimate the time and fuel needed for each field operation. It provides better precision and reliability for planting, harvesting and pulverization. By integrating with the automatic pilot, Guaíra Sugar Mill was able to increase the number of lines for crop rows, increasing the amount of sugarcane produced.
According to Alfredo Barbosa Neto, coordinator of geo-technology at Rosário Farm, a branch of Guaíra Sugar Mill, their process for automatically generating crop row lines has improved dramatically. Neto says what used to take a lot of time on each project now only takes only a few minutes, so the planting team has more time to analyze all projects and check for accuracy.
During the 2011/2012 harvest, Guaíra Sugar Mill achieved an average productivity of 82.4 tons/ha on a four-year-old plantation. This is 23 per cent higher than 68.29 tons/ha, the average Brazilian productivity in sugarcane for the same period.* Much of this success was due to the pioneering use of precision agriculture with the Smart Agriculture solution.
*Source: Brazil Ministry of Agriculture
Maximizing use of land and enabling faster decision making – that’s shaping change.
José Eduardo Deboni
Research and Development Manager
Guest Blogger Profile
José Eduardo Deboni
Research and Development Manager at Sisgraph
José Eduardo Deboni is a research and development manager at Sisgraph, a Hexagon brand based in São Paulo, Brazil. Deboni, a 12-year veteran of Sisgraph, manages several of Hexagon’s smart solutions initiatives including Smart Agriculture and Smart Assembly. Deboni has a doctorate in software engineering from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, where he teaches software development and testing techniques. He also is a member of the Brazilian Computing Society and IEEE Computer Society.