By Niv Dardik, Head of Global Sugarcane Unit at Netafim.
One of the most important elements we think about in times of drought crisis is saving water. Supplies are usually abundant in Brazil, which has 12% of the world’s freshwater and less than 3% of the world’s population. Apart from the arid north-eastern Cerrado, its cities are normally more likely to be plagued with floods than droughts. With big rivers like the Amazon and Paraná, the country generally meets 80% of energy needs with hydropower. However, in 2014, the rain fronts that are normally carried south from the humid Amazon largely failed to materialise and temperatures were higher than usual, prompting the authorities to scrabble to tap new sources and reduce demand. In São Paulo city, it even meant financial incentives to encourage residents and businesses to reduce consumption, the reduction of water pressure by 75% at night (which in effect means a cut for those – often the poor – living in high areas) and tapping alternative supplies.
Currently 72% of Brazil’s water resource is used for irrigating crops, and during this time of extended drought and water shortages many commercial producers have become known as the “public enemies” in this scenario.
In order to correct this situation, many growers are turning to drip irrigation in an effort to prove it is possible to produce more yield with less water consumption. A great example is the Plant of Santa Fé in New Europe / SP.
This time of crisis caused farmers, growing for the power plant, to seek technologies that automatically save water and reduce production costs. That was when they discovered the tremendous advantages of drip irrigation systems, where water and fertilizer are fed to the plant gradually so that the moisture remains around the plant roots longer. Netafim, provided the fertigation solution which is responsible for the significant increase in productivity.
The system was implemented in one of the farms of Usina Santa Fé, a 100 hectare area and the first cut is expected to fetch a total of 205 tons / hectare, much higher productivity when compared to other methods. The cost benefit of the system is positive, mainly because it lowers the cost of each ton produced and the system is paid for by the third cut after planting, remembering that this type of system is sized for up to ten cuts without reform of the sugar cane field.
With increasing income, producers have no doubt that drip irrigation is synonymous with profit and economy. “In the future, there will be no seedlings planted which are not irrigated by drip irrigation,” said Matheus Toledo, agricultural engineer and planting and soil preparation coordinator of the Santa Fé plant.
For further information please contact either myself at Niv.Dardik@Netafim.com or Marcos Kawasse, Head of the Sugar Cane Division at Netafim Brazil at Marcos.Kawasse@Netafim.com.br