STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International

Volume 4, Number 6

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32 STiR tea & coffee industry international / Issue 6, 2015 (December/January) Unprecedented Precision By Kelly Stein Advances in geospatial coffee farming conserve water, maximize yield, and can reduce production costs as much as 30% dgard Bressani looked to the sky to make the most of his farm. Using satellites and a geographical information system (GIS) supplied by Geopanta - Agricultura de Precisão (Precision Agriculture), Bressani, c.e.o. of O'Coffee - Brazilian Estates and the Octavio Café coffee chain, has continuously monitored almost 3,000 acres of coffee farms during the past four harvests. When he took the c.e.o. position his initial goal was to better understand the soil conditions of O'Coffee farms in Alta Mogiana, Brazil, but results went far beyond his expectations. "Now, we have better productivity and costs reduced by avoiding the unnecessary application of fertilizers," said Bressani. This tool allows us to better understand which areas need attention (water, soil correction, and/or fertilizers). With this detailed information, "we can register a drop of up to 30% in our production costs in extreme cases," he said. Geospatial farming is not new in Brazil. But it is usually used for crops that have faster cycles such as soy, explains Felipe de Araújo Lopes, a specialist with Geoplanta, located in Barretos, Brazil. "This technology is pretty new in coffee production, though, because the results take longer to be registered. Considering this is a perennial culture, the producer can see the real change in medium and long terms," he explains. The initial survey established a digital topographic database of one hectare grids visible in software on the company's desktop computers. GIS field computers (consist- ing of a geo receiver and geo-imaging sensor) are also mounted on a tractor and aligned via GPS (global positioning satellite) coordinates from satellites. The power of GIS is that it can relate unrelated information by using location as the key index variable. This "location intelligence" is stored in a relational database and ultimately tied to a "real" physical location where soil and leaf samples have been analyzed and recorded. This key characteristic of GIS generates insights into the soil and the precise nutritional needs of the coffee. Growers learn which fields need attention to make better use of labor and resources. E A GIS system controls the amount of inputs delivered based on location.

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