São Paulo, March 2021 – To make the best possible use of all by-products generated in the processing of sugarcane, and aiming for a cleaner and more sustainable operation, BP Bunge Bioenergia expanded the area benefited by localized fertigation with vinasse from 27,500 hectares to 78,400 hectares, an increase of 185% between 2019 and 2020.
Rich in nutrients, especially potassium, vinasse allows the organic fertilization of sugarcane cultivation, reducing or even eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers in the crop. Furthermore, the water contained in vinasse is used for the irrigation of crops, especially in their initial period of growth.
“To achieve such an expressive result – an increase of almost 200% in the area benefited by localized fertigation with vinasse, something that stands out in the entire sugar-energy industry –, BP Bunge made significant investments in its structure to transport vinasse between the mills and the crops. It was also necessary to invest in equipment and in the planned management of the localized application”, says Rogério Bremm, Agricultural Director, BP Bunge Bioenergia.
The company aims to completely reduce its dependence on mineral fertilization in the sugarcane fields by adopting organic fertilization using vinasse. Currently, three of the company’s 11 units are close to reaching 100% of their areas fertilized with the use of localized vinasse, but the technique is used at six other BP Bunge Bioenergia units.
The company has even improved the software used for this operation with the latest technology embedded in the machinery, such as GPS and autopilot, which ensure greater control and quality, through a more assertive dosage application for the appropriate nutrition of the sugarcane field.
Only two of the company’s units do not use localized vinasse, as those units are dedicated to the production of ethanol and, therefore, the vinasse produced has a lower concentration of potassium, which makes its transportation unfeasible for fresh application. In those units, 100% of the vinasse is used in the conventional fertigation system through aspersion, diluted in water.
Among the advantages of fertigation with vinasse is the environmental gain, as this by-product of sugarcane processing is used in its entirety and replaces other fertilizers, which brings economic gains, as it eliminates or reduces costs with chemical fertilizers. It also improves productivity, since the liquid and localized organic fertilization is more efficient than chemical products, thus increasing the TSH (tons of sugarcane per hectare) in the benefited areas and driving faster growth of the sugarcane fields. Another gain is related to RenovaBio, with an increase in the generation of CBios (bonds provided for in the National Policy for Biofuels, which sets out the capture of one ton of CO² from the atmosphere for each unit) due to the use of vinasse, as the calculations take into account the smallest environmental impacts.
In addition to localized fertigation, vinasse is also used in BP Bunge Bioenergia units diluted in water for spray applications. In total, 71,000 hectares of the company’s sugarcane fields benefit from this process. In the end, among localized fertigation and vinasse spray applications, approximately 150,000 hectares are treated and benefited with the by-product in the company’s crops.