Editor’s note: Maurício Nicocelli Netto is a Precision Ag Consultant in Brazil. While he has witnessed a lot of growth in the precision ag market in his country in the past decade, there still has been many challenges with its adoption. In the article below from sister website Precisionag.com, Mauricio shares some of his career highlights, and provides insight into how the precision ag industry is evolving in Brazil.
From the time I graduated from the Federal University of São Carlos in 2009 with a degree in Agronomy, I always had a dream of working in the central west and northeastern part of Brazil, where we have large farms producing soy, corn and cotton. After graduation, I began my career in monitoring pests and diseases in soy and cotton on a farm in western Bahia.
As time went by, I became a Technology Manager for Fazenda São Francisco. where I was responsible for the precision farming project that included 50,000 acres. In 2010, we collected soil samples in 6-, 12- and 20-acre grids. We also collected harvest maps from 13 John Deere STS 9750 combines and six Case IH Module Express 635 cotton harvesters, and took daily land application maps of 10 John Deere 4730 sprayers and two Air Tractor 502B airplanes. I was also responsible for fertilizer recommendations, which included variable rate application of limestone and phosphorus.
From 2010 to 2012, I saw great growth of precision agricultural companies in Brazil, where many farmers were encouraged to invest in this type of technology. However, over those years we experienced several challenges in precision ag, such as high variation in laboratory results of soil samples and unqualified people to work with the precision ag equipment. There has also been non-measurable, climatic factors that made data analysis difficult, such as a three-year drought in some regions of Brazil. I also noticed that only the best companies survived the precision agriculture market.