The farm of the future is already in Brazil

Partnership with agricultural technology company made the São Martinho group's mills become real smart farms.


30 March 2021

A farm where everything is automated: machines with on-board computers prepare the soil, plant, apply inputs, harvest and transport the raw material in a connected and synchronised manner. When one tractor fills up, another is already there to replace it. If an equipment exceeds the speed limit, the operator is notified immediately. Far away, managers and monitoring teams spend the day following everything that happens in the field in real time directly from a control centre.

The scenario may seem advanced, but it is already a reality in the world and in Brazil. One of the main examples of these intelligent farms is the São Martinho group's plants, which have high technology integrating all their agricultural processes. To continue advancing, the sugarcane group has just announced the first tests with 5G technology, which should take place in the 2021/2022 harvest.

The new technology promises to further improve the productivity and efficiency of the giant, which today has grinding capacity of 24 million tons of sugarcane and a turnover of BRL 3.7 billion. To reach this level, the company has invested in digital transformation through partnerships such as Hexagon's Agriculture division, which offers complete digital solutions from planning for cultivation to harvesting and transporting raw materials.

With more than 25,000 pieces of equipment in operation in 36 countries, the technology company is involved in the planning processes of about 46% of global sugarcane production. São Martinho wasn't left out and acquired a set of software, sensors and actuators to monitor and automate its agricultural operations, as well as 1851 Onboard Computers since 2018.

One of the main points of the partnership was the implementation of AgrOn Control Room, which monitors, processes and summarises fleet and operations information for the Agricultural Operations Control (AOC) of the mills.

It is monitoring and telemetry data recorded by on-board computers in real time by means of sensors. It is possible to track the machine's path, check the time of start and end of the activity, the average travel speed, making stops and manoeuvres, how much was planted or harvested, the application of a particular sprayer, and so on.

The information going to the AOC can be continuously compared to the planned goals and allow for rapid interventions whenever necessary. The result is the certainty that the operations will be executed as planned, efficiently, without wasting time and resources.

Field Waze

Every day, São Martinho's agricultural machinery fleet runs almost 90,000 kilometres, which is equivalent to around twice the earth's circumference. To ensure the control and optimisation of this logistics, the group developed a kind of "Waze" of its own, which was also the result of a partnership with Hexagon's Agriculture division.

Intelligent vehicular terminals (IVTs) have been installed on agricultural equipment, allowing them to receive real-time information on the best routes to be followed through on-board computers.

If the operator deviates from the path or breaches another established parameter, the displays receive alerts. The positioning of the vehicle, the distances travelled and those that remain to be travelled: everything is controlled directly by the Logistics Operations Centre of the mills. The farm of the future is increasingly the farm of the present.