The role of innovation for an increasingly sustainable agribusiness

By Bernardo de Castro, President of Hexagon's Agriculture Division


26 July 2022

Brazilian agribusiness accounts for approximately 27% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is historically at the forefront in its competitive capacity, which is directly related to our geographical characteristics - climate, soil, and diversity of biomes - and to our national culture. However, another factor has also contributed to enhance agribusiness as a source of productive wealth: the use of innovative technologies and practices in favor of sustainability.

This is an issue that is increasingly discussed in the market, both due to the demand of consumers who are more environmentally conscious and concerned, as well as the growing global need to preserve what we have today to guarantee the future of society. Furthermore, these issues were further strengthened during the pandemic. According to a study by the IPSOS Institute, 85% of Brazilians said they believe that environmental issues — such as deforestation, pollution and climate change — should be treated as a priority in the country's post-Covid recovery. 

In agribusiness, attention to this topic is essential for several reasons. The main one is the simple fact that, without nature, there would be no ecosystems and raw materials and, consequently, no agriculture and no livestock. We work with what the environment provides us and, therefore, knowing how to use it in the best way is one of the sector’s commitments.

In the process, technology has been a great ally. Increasing the effectiveness of production and reducing waste, it has contributed strongly to the reduction of environmental impacts. It is no wonder that, as a result of much research and innovation, Brazil has managed to grow 420% in productivity with a 47% increase in its production area in the last 60 years, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA). 

Better for the environment and the rural producer

In addition to reducing the impact on the environment, sustainable practices benefit farmers themselves. There is a better use of planted areas and more productivity and quality in the results achieved, which reflects in increased income for the rural producer. 

The use of precision agriculture solutions, such as intelligent fertiliser and herbicide controllers, can reduce the use of agrochemicals in an agricultural operation by up to 25%, for example. Automated logistics, in turn, allows machines to move less and more efficiently. Detailed planning of operations, combined with traffic control and fleet monitoring tools, ensures agility to processes and can generate savings of up to 10% in fuel by optimising the process as a whole.

We can estimate that by 2020, at least 190 million liters of fuel were saved on farms around the world that use Hexagon technologies. As a result, approximately 500 thousand tons of carbon dioxide (CO≠) are no longer released into the environment. Only technology to promote both these benefits to the environment and greater efficiency, economy and productivity to agriculture.

In the same manner, studies by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) project that the sector has the capacity to neutralise greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and soybean production by 2030. Statistics are important to prove the potential of technologies to benefit the environment and, consequently, their importance for a sustainable and efficient agribusiness. With innovative solutions, we can achieve better processes for agribusiness, nature and society as a whole.