Syngenta Developing More Cost-Effective Sugar Cane Planting Technology in Brazil

Jose Michael

Syngenta is developing a new technology to dramatically improve the cost efficiency of sugar cane planting in Brazil. Syngenta´s innovation would reduce planting costs per hectare by some 15%, driven by a novel approach to grow sugar cane from smaller cane segments using proprietary treatments. The technology is planned for launch in 2010 under the brand name Plene and has a market potential of $300 million per year by 2015.

Current practice for planting sugar cane is labor and equipment intensive. Rather than using the present method of planting 30-40 centimeter long cuttings, Syngenta is developing a method of producing sugarcane segments of less than four centimeters in length. These will be treated with proprietary crop protecting seed care applications to maximize early plant development.

The method would allow sugar cane growers to replant their fields more frequently, eliminating the typical yield degradation of the crop and thereby leading to a yield gain of up to 15%. It would also enable growers to use lighter planting equipment which saves on fuel costs. This planting machinery is under development in partnership with US agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere.

Brazil is the market leader in sugar cane production, with some eight million hectares under cultivation, 2% of the country’s arable land. Current production of sugar cane is around 500 million tons. Increased demand for sugar cane comes from its use as sugar and as a raw material in the production of biofuel. Today, Brazil produces 40% of global bioethanol.

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