Crop control and automation technology increases productivity and reduces environmental impact

Agtech sensing system from Rio Grande do Sul offers solutions to harvest more, in smaller spaces and without impact on the planet

03.05.2021 | 20:59 (UTC -3)
AgroUrbano Comunicação

The reality in the field has been changing at an increasingly rapid pace. The digitalization of agriculture, with the use of precision agriculture tools and constant technological evolution, are leading the sector to what some experts call 'agriculture 5.0'. The idea is to bring together everything that this new phase of agribusiness offers, to achieve greater productivity. But the sector is also aware of the need to reduce impacts on the environment – ​​and collaborate with it.

High technology, combined with accurate information and data, makes all the difference in obtaining ideal conditions for plant growth, guaranteeing good results, cost savings and sustainability. “Quality and productivity are increasingly linked to an environment that the rural producer can control”, believes Fernando Rauber Albé, rural producer and Agrotechnology Leader at Elysios Agricultura Inteligente, an agtech (agricultural startup) that develops intelligence tools agricultural. “Technology is an important factor of transformation in the field, but we understand that it needs to be easy to use, robust and accessible”, he explains.

Among the solutions offered by Elysios, the Demetra digital platform monitors and enables control over the cultivation of fruits and vegetables, through an application on the smartphone. By recording day-to-day activities in an easy and practical way, the producer is contributing to the formation of reports with information. Based on this information, the producer and his technician will make a decision, based on data and facts, no longer just on the producer's intuition. In addition to facilitating routine and production planning, as a result it is able to meet the required traceability standards, with information regarding the origin and production of the food.

Other technologies that also make a difference on a property are Sensing and Automation, which can be applied both in protected crops, such as greenhouses, and in orchards and open field crops. The sensors, positioned in strategic locations, provide accurate readings and store hundreds of data such as air temperature and humidity, soil humidity and nutrients, solar radiation, rainfall and leaf wetness. “The system is a technological package that provides accurate data on each cultivated plot. Based on this information, the producer and technician can opt for the best decision-making. By understanding the environment, it becomes easier to keep plants healthy and resistant, preventing diseases and pests and increasing productivity”, explains Fernando. “The integrated wireless network communication system provides the possibility of controlling everything, through an application, which was developed based on the reality and real needs of producers”, he adds.

The grandson of a farmer, Fernando applies his knowledge in ecological and sustainable cultivation at Ecofruto, in Taquara (RS), 80 kilometers from Porto Alegre. The property's greenhouse acts as an experimental field for Elysios' best technologies and growing systems. The hydroponic cultivation of tomatoes has been obtaining excellent results, as is the case with the Sicily variety, which is characterized by a high level of sweetness. Brix, the sugar index that gives products flavor, reaches a maximum of 10 degrees in Sicily tomatoes. At Ecofruto, in the first harvest the index obtained was 12 degrees Brix, through drip irrigation and without the use of any type of chemical pesticide. “The sensors capture and store data from the different microclimates inside the greenhouse. This determines, for example, the amount of water and nutrients needed for irrigation at each point in the environment. Knowledge of these variables leads to a more efficient control and management system, combined with sustainable cultivation practices. This is why sensors are a necessary technological tool to achieve better harvests,” he says. In the Ecofruto greenhouse, research is also carried out on other crops, seeking better solutions for rural producers and the market.

Aimed at family farming and cooperatives, the technologies produced by Elysios are aligned with good agricultural practices and preservation of natural resources. “Food production is a large consumer of natural resources, such as water and land use. Food systems – which involve food production, preparation, consumption and even waste – are also greenhouse gas emitters. With our attitudes, we are also fulfilling part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global action plan drawn up by the United Nations (UN) that aims to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger, offer quality education, protect the planet and promote inclusion, by 2030. Also seeking to achieve these UN objectives, Elysios aims to help farmers produce with more profitability and quality, guaranteeing the consumer a safe and sustainable product”, he concludes.

Mosaic Biosciences March 2024