The Agricultural Management and Sustainability research group is a multidisciplinary team working in areas of biomass production (mainly related to sugarcane) that have substantial impacts on production costs and environmental impacts, and which have not been extensively evaluated by other research groups in Brazil. Our main objective is to improve the sustainability of the production of sugarcane – the raw material for bioenergy – using best practices for crop management, precision agriculture techniques, geotechnologies, crop modeling, water resource management, and organic residues from biorefinery management.
Best Practices for Fertilizer Management
There is no doubt that these issues have been thoroughly studied by other research groups in Brazil. However, from the point of view of the CTBE, the researchers seek alternatives to increase the efficiency of nutrient use by sugarcane plants by testing best practices in agricultural management, genotype demands, and nutritional diagnosis. These three areas are evaluated jointly or not according to each project. It’s important to stress that the main source of nutrients for sugarcane can be the organic residues from ethanol and sugar production. Thus, our research group has been working to improve the quality of these raw materials as smart fertilizers or soil conditioners, aiming to increase the efficiency of nutrient use by sugarcane as well as to decrease the demands for mineral fertilizers in biomass production.
Precision Agriculture Techniques
Focused on increasing the efficiency and sustainability of biomass production, the Precision Agriculture (PA) program at the CTBE aims to bring, both to the growers and the industry, technologies that improve the profitability of sugarcane production. Currently, the CTBE has been working with technologies to identify and diagnose causes of spatial variability present in sugarcane crops, using yield monitors, soil/plant reflectance, and electrical conductivity sensors. Through the available technologies and techniques developed by the CTBE research team, it is possible to identify zones that allow for optimized soil/plant sampling and obtain reliable maps of soil and crop conditions, allowing fertilizers to be applied by Variable Rate Technology (VRT). Monitoring crop yield enhances decision-making for more efficient crop management, increasing the sustainability of the agricultural production system.