A partnership between Yara, the world leader in plant nutrition, and Drop Agricultura, a startup specialized in solutions for localized application of agricultural inputs, gave rise to an innovative technology in the market for localized application of vinasse enriched with nutritional solutions in sugarcane fields. Vinasse is a by-product of sugarcane processing, liquid residue left over after its fractional distillation, and is rich in potassium, one of the nutrients necessary for the development of the plant.
The practice consists of enriching the vinasse with liquid fertilizer, to complete the combination of nutrients necessary for the cultivation of sugarcane. The process is carried out by means of a technology in customized injection systems, developed especially by Drop Agricultura for this purpose and allows the dosing of the fertilizer, stored in tanks provided on loan by Yara, precisely and directly in the vinasse, for its subsequent localized application.
With the system complete and in operation since the last harvest in more than 15 plants, in approximately 30 shipments, the positive results are already proven. “We can say that we have consolidated a new management technique that brings productive advantages and cost reduction for the producer, as the initiative allows for the balanced and assertive use of fertilizers, and also brings environmental and economic gains with the use of vinasse”, says the agronomic specialist at Yara, Thiago Moura.
For Drop Agricultura, the novelty is the result of the companies’ efforts to seek solutions that meet the needs of producers. “Our challenge with Yara was to develop a technology that would guarantee precision in the dosage of fertilizers and solve the issue of storing liquid fertilizers in the production units. For this, we seek to understand the environment where the system is operated and thus, it was possible to develop a complete solution, which not only solves the storage of fertilizer in the field but also guarantees precision in the dosage without human interference”, says the CEO of Drop Agricultura , Franz Arthur Pavlu.
The solution consists of a system where the recipes (doses of each fertilizer) are prepared and sent directly to the terminals that dose the products, thus guaranteeing precision in the injection of Yara inputs. The startup has production units working with more than 3 different types of inputs and 120,000L of stored products. According to the CEO, in this harvest, new technologies will be implemented to further optimize the process and guarantee the supply of the product “just in time”.
The segment of liquid fertilizer enriched with vinasse grows an average of 20% per year, and with all the challenges faced by high prices and reduced inputs, alternatives like this are increasingly accessed. An example is BP Bunge Bioenergia, which is among the leading companies in the sugar-energy sector, and which was one of the pioneers in joining.
BP Bunge, which started with an area of approximately 30 thousand hectares for the application of vinasse located in 2019, today has 86 thousand hectares and estimates a productivity gain of 3 to 7 tons per hectare (TCH), with a 30% reduction in costs, considering the transport of fertilized vinasse in an average radius of 25 km. “Numbers that portray the current management model focused on nutrition and, according to the potassium content of the vinasse, which varies from unit to unit because of the production mix”, explains the specialist in Irrigation and Fertigation at BP Bunge, Lucas Cabral. The technique is already used in 9 units of the company.
With the good results, the plan, according to Lucas, is to expand this form of vinasse application and reach 120 thousand hectares by 2025. “The use of vinasse is a strategic part of agricultural planning due to the sustainability of the product, gains in productivity and lower cost”.
In addition to profitability, one of the main advantages of the new technology is sustainability, after all, the solution allows for less use of inputs, greater efficiency in application (fertigation model), optimization of field operations, and the use of a by-product of sugarcane processing. And this last point is important, since the practice of using vinasse is classified by Renovabio, the national program to encourage the production of biofuels in Brazil, allowing the farmer to increase his generation of Cbios – decarbonization credits –, which can be reversed into new income for the countryside.
According to Moura, the initiative that combines technology and sustainability should gain even more strength in the coming harvests, reinforcing sustainability as one of Yara’s pillars. “The value of agriculture has been perceived not only by how much is produced, but by the way in which it is produced, and it is in this sense that we focus our efforts at Yara, so that the most sustainable practices are productive and rewarded, so we follow this journey of transformation. for a positive and lasting cycle throughout the food chain”, concludes.