Sustainability 23.01.2023

BP Bunge aims to eliminate mineral fertilizer use by 2025

The company is expanding the use of bioinputs and organic matter, such as vinasse and compost, for soil and crop nutrition

por BP Bunge

São Paulo, SP, January 23, 2023 – Since its creation three years ago, BP Bunge Bioenergia, one of the largest sugarcane processors in Brazil, has been developing sustainable field management solutions, focusing on quality and sugarcane productivity. Among the initiatives, one of the highlights is for the planting area with a broad project to replace mineral fertilizer by 2025. 

Aligned with its purpose of an increasingly sustainable operation, the company has expanded the use of bioinputs from bacteria and organic matter. The solutions, the result of investments in research, intelligence and technology, will enrich the soil with essential nutrients, eliminating the need to use chemical fertilizers, including those from the NPK group (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium).

In this harvest, for example, the company has already managed to replace 100% of its planting area (about 50,000 hectares) with the use of nitrogen fertilizers. For this, it expanded the use of the bacterium Nitrospirillum amazonense. A solution developed by Embrapa, the bacterium acts in nitrogen fixation, promoting the growth and development of the plant, which results in increased productivity in crops. 

As for the ratoon areas, the company uses 100% of the bacteria Azospirillum brasilense, which has already led to a 50% reduction in nitrogen doses. In addition, the agronomic development team works in several experimental fields with a focus on the development of other more efficient strains, which, linked to the advance in the use of vinasse, will bring more options to optimize the application of fertilizers. 

On another front, there is the reduction of mineral fertilizers based on the better use of organic material derived from industrial processing. One of them is vinasse, a byproduct rich in potassium (which also provides part of the nitrogen), which returns to the field as a nutrient for sugarcane. In this crop year, the application of the residue is already in around 80% of the crops of the 300 thousand hectares owned by BP Bunge. By 2025, this use should reach 96% of sugarcane fields.

“The results collected, with the replacement of mineral fertilizer, demonstrate an increase in sugarcane productivity in the range of 3 to 10 tons per hectare, in addition to increasing longevity for two years and reducing by up to 80% the amount of potassium chloride acquired in the field market”, explains Rogério Bremm, Agricultural director of BP Bunge Bioenergia. 


Also in the 2022/2023 harvest, the company started to standardize its compost yards for mixing filter cake (from the filtration of sugarcane juice) and bagasse ash (from burning to generate bioenergy). In three years, the goal is to produce organomineral fertilizers from these organic materials and eliminate the use of mineral fertilizers (phosphorus and potassium). 

By the end of this year, seven units of the group will have enrichment equipment, such as a composter, trailer and tank that work as dosers to enrich the compost. This equipment mixes the filter cake with the ashes. During this process, the balance of nutrients also occurs, giving rise to a compound 35% moist and with a crumbly texture.

In order to rationalize the use of these by-products as much as possible, in the plants where the sugarcane juice is filtered using diffusers, which generate more ash than filter cake as a by-product, cattle manure and chicken, purchased from various suppliers. 

Cattle and poultry manure are sources of nutrients and help to balance and enrich the organic compound resulting from the mixture of filter cake and ashes. Composting helps to increase productivity, due to the replacement of a chemical product by a biofertilizer, improving the condition of the soil by 10 to 15 tons per hectare. In this harvest, 9 thousand hectares of BP Bunge Bioenergia used the mixture. By 2025, 100% of planting should have this compound, closing the entire planting cycle with biofertilizers. 

“The sustainable use of sugarcane, mainly from its by-products, favors an increasingly cleaner and regenerative agriculture. In this sense, BP Bunge Bioenergia is assuming the leading role with large-scale practices”, emphasizes Rogério Bremm.


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