Although companies often have diverse attitudes to various parts of the ag industry, everyone who sat down with AgriBusiness Global in Chile shared a similar viewpoint: Agricultural technology has a place in the high-dollar Chilean market.
Here are three key challenges presently facing growers in Chile:
1. Get More Out of Harvests: Despite the fact that the total land area is only 756,102 km2 (291,933 square miles), only 23% of which was reported as agricultural land area in 2015, according to World Bank, the country’s biggest issue is not producing sufficient crops to maintain its high-export income but instead not letting the crops grown go to waste.
AgroFresh’s Daniel Manriquez estimates between 30% and 50% of output is lost between the orchard and the consumer. This presents an opportunity for storage solutions, enzyme blockers, and sensors that aid with identifying optimal harvest time to stake a claim in the Chilean market.
2. Overcome Climate-Related Variances: Chile is often cited for its unique shape, being one of the longest and narrowest countries on the planet.
This presents incredible hurdles for large growers, whose operations may span multiple climactic zones in a time of noticeable climate change. Manriquez says as a result of the temperature changes, he is seeing crops moving steadily South, noting that “100 km to the south of Santiago there used to be many apple orchards; now they’re more like 600 km south.”
AgroEnzymas Technical Manager of South America Orlando Lopez Salomon sees this shift as an opportunity for the input market, specifically in the area of biostimulants and bioregulators, which can help with the stress and physiological burdens plants experience as their climates change.
Gabriel Assandri, country head for Bayer, voiced agreement, saying “The biological market is evolving with great dynamism in our country. During the last five years sales have grown in double digits annually.”
3. Mitigate Moisture-Related Threats: Chile has a long and storied history with irrigation. Acres’ Luna estimates that 100% of crops for export use are on irrigated land. And despite the 90% deficiency in rainfall in the central agricultural valley, the majority of these crops have been unaffected.
Bayer’s Luer Barbieri, though, says La Hornilla’s ForwardFarming project exists to act as an example of how innovation on-farm can help address various agricultural challenges, including Chile’s growing desertification and runoff concerns. Bayer’s Assandri elaborates, noting of their efforts that they “have specifically implemented satellite monitoring, irrigation probes, and weather stations, among other technologies. We have seen positive results so far. For example, a 50% saving of water to irrigate table grapes.”