How to use technology to reduce risks in agribusiness?

Planning and monitoring of agricultural operations can prevent unforeseen events from resulting in negative impacts for farmers and rural managers.

how to use technology

07 July 2021

Agribusiness is one of the fastest growing sectors in Brazil, but it is not immune to risks. On the contrary: in the field, there are a number of factors impossible to control, whether related to climatic conditions and natural phenomena or to the performance of agricultural machines and their operators.

However, despite unforeseen events, all the technological innovation available today already allows farmers and rural managers to at least be better prepared to deal with different situations, reducing the risks of negative impacts.

"Making an optimised planning of each step, calculating possibilities and variants and closely monitoring operations can make all the difference in the final production. Although it does not prevent accidents, these actions allow much more assertiveness in decision-making and agility in responding to conflicts, maintaining productivity and avoiding great losses in crops," explains Bernardo de Castro, president of Hexagon's Agriculture division, which develops and provides technologies for the agricultural and forestry sector.

Planting planning from historical data

The process for risk reduction begins even before the crop is planted, with its planning. Specific software for this use criteria and operational restrictions to diagnose the needs of the area to be planted. "The HxGN AgrOn Plant Planning system, for example, analyses the production areas, selects which should be reformed each harvest, indicates the soil and the ideal varieties for planting and calculates the productivity curves, generating greater predictability to the producer," comments Bernardo.

Thus, it is possible to calculate the costs of inputs, machines and labour before starting production, in addition to simulating challenges that may occur during the execution of activities. This allows the manager to adapt in a timely manner to a more effective production environment, without unnecessary costs and with the company's stock and cash prepared for demands.

Another advantage in using optimised planning software is the comparison with historical data from previous harvests. "By analysing past productions, it is possible to ensure prevention more accurately and correct mistakes made previously," reinforces the president of Hexagon's Agriculture division.

Simulations and reprogramming of harvesting as needed

Planning based on real data not only helps reduce risks at the time of planting, but also throughout the cultivation until harvesting. With HxGN AgrOn Harvest Planning, for example, it is possible to verify the ideal cutting period of the areas according to varietal, operational and logistical criteria and restrictions.

"From the configuration of parameters, the manager can build a harvest plan considering issues such as estimated production per area, maturation curves, geographic distribution, weather forecasts and even the demand of the industry," explains Bernardo de Castro. The linear programming algorithm of the system tests all possible solutions and points out which one has the best cost/benefit ratio, including in the analysis the simulation of different unforeseen scenarios and giving possibilities for actions for each case.

"The most interesting thing is that it is possible to monitor results, reprogram scenarios and adjust operations as needed, avoiding setbacks from the beginning to the end of the harvest," he adds.

Remote monitoring of operations

Another technological solution that has a great impact on risk reduction in agribusiness is the monitoring of the field. Currently, it is possible to make a remote and centralised control of operations in real time from the transfer of information from the onboard controller of the agricultural machinery to the cloud through 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi or satellite communication channels.

As such, managers can make decisions and perform rapid interventions whenever necessary, even when away from the field. "In the case of Hexagon's system, HxGN AgrOn Control Room, for example, the solution itself issues notifications and alerts of irregularities, incidents and performance problems of agricultural machinery to operators in real time. It is possible to assess whether the equipment has the appropriate settings for cultivation and even issue alarms when they are above the stipulated speed", explains Bernardo.

Another reason for monitoring agricultural machinery is to predict the need for maintenance of the equipment and schedule the relevant repairs, avoiding the risk of failures in the middle of the agricultural process, generating waste of time and resources. At the same time, it is also important to have quality technical assistance from your technology suppliers, considering that no equipment is free from the need for adjustments.