The rise in fertilizer prices, compounded by shortages due to the war in Ukraine, has become a major challenge for agribusiness. At the same time, however, it accelerated the search for more sustainable alternatives. Since its formation in December 2019, BP Bunge Bioenergia has adopted field management practices and solutions that, in addition to improving sugarcane productivity and quality, have contributed to reducing external dependence on chemical fertilizer.
And it is with a focus on taking advantage of and filling all the productive capacity of its sugarcane fields that the company has consistent investments in vinasse, a by-product of sugarcane processing. Rich in potassium chloride, the use of this residue in the form of sprinkling or localized application is already present in 65% of its 300 thousand hectares. In the current harvest, the expectation is that 80% of the crops will receive the liquid compost and, by 2025, it will be present in 95% of the sugarcane fields.
“Vinasse, used as organomineral fertilizer, is a strategic part of agricultural planning due to product sustainability, productivity gains and lower costs”, says Rogério Bremm, Agricultural Director at BP Bunge Bioenergia. “With the replacement of chemical fertilizer, we increased productivity by between 3 and 10 tons per hectare, extended the longevity of the cane fields by two years and reduced the amount of potassium chloride we purchase in the market by up to 80%”.
On another front, there is the exchange of phosphate fertilizers through the composting of filter cake (from the filtration of sugarcane juice) and bagasse ash (result of burning to generate bioenergy), applied in 30% of the planted area. The company is studying ways to maximize these organic sources, producing organomineral fertilizers from these wastes.
In addition to alternatives based on by-products taken from the industrial process, BP Bunge Bioenergia is also expanding the use of biofertilizers. One of the examples is the biostimulant of the biofertilizer type Azospirillum brasilense, a bacterium that accelerates the development of sugarcane and that, in addition to increasing TCH (tons of sugar per hectare), helps to save costs with nitrogen fertilizers.
“Cane is a fantastic crop with great potential for sustainable use, mainly from its by-products”, emphasizes Rogério Bremm. “The price scale of chemical fertilizers encourages us to move faster, not only to reduce costs financial resources, but also following our purpose for an increasingly cleaner and more sustainable operation”.