Precision Agriculture Helps Brazilian Farmers Top 90-Bushel Soybean Yield
In the 2016/2017 harvest, the Mato Grossense Institute of Economics (IMEA) estimated that the largest soybean state in Brazil will reach the historic mark of 49 bushels per acre. While it has been a good year for rain in our region, we still have a good way to show the potential of a soybean crop. Each year, the Soja Brazil Strategic Committee (CESB) runs the soybean productivity contest in various regions of Brazil — in areas up to 20 acres — where farmers and consultants perform best management practices for maximum productivity. In 2015, the contest participants reached levels of 126 bushels per acre in the state of Paraná.
The results of this year of the contest have not yet been announced, but last year the champion from the state of Mato Grosso harvested 89 bushels per acre. Leaving climatic factors aside that we can not control, I evaluated the work of the past few years in areas over 90 bushels per acre and would like to cite how precision agriculture can help to achieve these results.
The physical impediment of soil up to 40 cm of depth, from 0.9 to 1.7 Mpa of resistance, was an impact factor. In other words, we need to measure the soil compaction and then use subsoiling to improve root growth. The availability of calcium and magnesium at the soil sample depth also had an impact on the results. In other words, it is of the utmost importance to evaluate the entire soil profile.
The distribution of plants per area (association of seed numbers per meter and spacing between rows) was another factor that helped reach high yields. Better meters in planters and control of planting speed can significantly affect productive management. Using the harvest maps of the previous crops, it was possible to evaluate the productive potentials of the areas and to calculate nutrient removal, in order to correct the levels of fertility in the soil. Finally, controlling spray speed and spray volume and proper phytosanitary management also impacted these results.
The factors above were paramount to reach high yields, and many of them are in our hands.