Monitoring network for efficient use of water and pesticides in sugarcane production
Name of the project: Monitoring network for efficient use of water and pesticides in sugarcane production
Call for proposals theme: Building innovative approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or improve water stewardship in sugarcane farming and milling
Raízen is an integrated energy company and one of the world’s leading sugarcane processing company. It manages an agricultural operation that involves 1.3 million hectares of cultivated area.
In 2011 it became the first organisation in the world to be Bonsucro certified, with its plant in Maracaí in São Paulo state, Brazil. Currently, 24 of its 31 bioenergy parks in operation are Bonsucro certified.
Pulse is Raízen’s hub for open innovation and development of projects with start-ups for the agricultural sector.
The project is run in partnership with Arable, a US-based start-up that creates technological solutions for plant and weather monitoring.
Purpose of the project
Local climates have a big impact on the success of agricultural production. The Brazilian sugar-energy sector has been facing major challenges with prolonged droughts and severe frosts in the Center-South region. This situation threatens producers, the bioenergy sector, and the communities financially dependent on the activity.
Raízen/Pulse’s project promotes sustainable sugarcane production with a rational use of resources.
The objective is to test, validate, and scale a monitoring network for efficient use of water and pesticides. This monitoring network will use data from in-field sensors and data analysis to support producers to most efficiently use their irrigation and pesticide application in line with weather pattern data. Producers will be able to access this data via the Arable web app or the API.
The Arable solution streamlines how vast amounts of in-field data can be collected and used to improve the productive, financial, and ecological outcomes of farming at a local and global level.
It aims to:
- Help producers better manage their production according to the microclimate and mitigate climate risks
- Reduce production costs and economic losses
- Future-proof the bioenergy sector in Brazil and contribute to the energy transition.
The project will be implemented in the Center-South region of Brazil, in the micro-region of the city of Araçatuba, state of São Paulo.
This region has been selected due to the recent history of prolonged droughts and severe frosts and the accumulation of water deficits. The climate challenges have resulted in bankruptcy for some sugarcane producers and very discouraging conditions for the rest. Overall, there has been a negative financial impact on the region.
Why this project?
The Bonsucro Impact Fund supports collaborative, scalable and innovative projects that accelerate sustainable sugarcane production.
The project will begin with a pilot phase during which the solution will be tested among 10 producers. Once the technology has been approved and results determined, a new pilot phase will be run among 500 producers.
In a further scale-up phase of the project, there is potential to scale the solution to 1,500 sugarcane producers in Brazil in up to two years.
As agriculture is facing unprecedented challenges, farmers, agribusinesses and food companies see digital transformation as the way forward. However, they face significant barriers to collecting and synthesising accurate, field-level data which stand in the way of true progress.
Arable’s solution combines Internet of Things (IoT) technology with machine learning and delivers agronomic analytics and alerts that will be accessed by the smallholders via browser, app, and application programming interface.
Crafted for data-driven agriculture, the solution provides easy access to the critical variables and measurements (soil moisture levels, plant growth stages, disease indicators, etc.) needed to optimise crop inputs, such as water, fertilisers, and pesticides while enhancing quality and yields and protecting field workers.
The project aligns with multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG 2 – Zero hunger, SDG 7 – Clean and affordable energy, SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth, SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 12, Responsible consumption and production.
The project is also expected to:
- Generate return on investment (in the technology and irrigation) for sugarcane producers
- Create a new sustainable value offering solution for Raízen’s pool of sugarcane suppliers
- Contribute to the continuation of sugarcane production
- Scale up a new agricultural technology in the sugarcane market and support the digitisation of producers
- Better management of crops and resources e.g., improved use of input such as pesticides and water, identification of best period for planting, water stress mitigation techniques.
- Continuity of sugarcane producers’ economic activity, through the reduction of planting failure, loss and risks.
- Economic empowerment for the region, with the generation of revenue from the production of commodities that are raw materials for bioenergy, biofuels and food (sugar, energy, ethanol).
Every six months, grantees of the Bonsucro Impact Fund have to submit a progress report. Here are some of the most recent updates about this project (August 2023):
- Two devices have been successfully installed on the beta tester farm in different locations. This female-led farm is the demonstration plot for other famers. The data provided via Arable’s device’s platform has aided decision-making through: easy viewing weather data at any time/place, for planning and monitoring operations and field, use of anemometer for pesticide spraying planning, use of temperature and humidity data for pesticide spraying, analysis of the station’s weather forecast / rain gauge, for control and planning of planting and soil treatment operations
- Nine additional farmers have now signed up and are being onboarded.
- A farmer field day took place on 12th July on the beta tester’s farm attended by partners and local farmers. Arable performed a practical demonstration of the equipment and the platform. The farmers were very excited to see the technology in practice and are keen to get started.
- The beta tester said “[with] easy, quick access, [the user] can immediately display the monitoring station and at the same time you already start having data”.
Bonsucro Impact Fund
The Bonsucro Impact Fund invests in impact projects that address critical sustainability challenges in the sugarcane sector.
The Bonsucro Impact Funds uses income from the sale of Credits through the Bonsucro Credit Trading Platform.
All trades are charged a transaction fee, around 50% of which is invested into the Bonsucro Impact Fund.
Bonsucro Credit Trading
By purchasing Bonsucro credits for sugarcane, ethanol, molasses and raw sugar, companies support impact projects on the ground through the Bonsucro Impact Fund.