A plant breeding company explains how it has transformed its processes since introducing Cropwise Protector and precision farming to its operations.
Technology has always been in TMG's DNA. The TMG Group is a Brazilian company that researches and develops soybean, corn, and cotton crops. "Our focus is on genetic solutions. For the 21/22 harvest, we are repositioning our soybean portfolio in terms of productivity. We're going to launch our first corn hybrid in 2023. We're market leaders in cotton," says Raphael Augusto, the group's Agritech Solutions Consultant.
Headquartered in Cambé in the state of Paraná in Brazil, TMG also has facilities in four other states: Bahia, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso, and Goiás, bringing its total to six experimental facilities in the country's main grain-growing areas, as well as numerous testing sites on partner farms. These are areas of 100 to 150 hectares divided into small plots where different types of crops are grown.
It's a meticulous job that requires strict regulations and protocols. "We are required to make targeted applications for each of the different technologies we have tested. And mistakes have been made because there are dozens of different tests spread across thousands of small plots. For example, there was an instance where glyphosate was sprayed somewhere it shouldn't have been, and it killed the crop. As a result, we decided to look for a solution to mitigate these problems," adds Raphael. That's where Syngenta Digital comes in.
Initial outcome: a reduction in the use of pesticides
For three years now, Cropwise Protector has been a part of the routine for those who work at TMG, both in the fields in the hands of its workforce and in the back office with its management team. Initially, the company started using the tool to help monitor pests. Gradually, other features were also incorporated, such as the use of the smart calendar, and precision farming at TMG has grown from strength to strength as a result.
Progress was made and the results have been constant. Just to give you an idea, the group saw a 20% reduction in the use of pesticides. "We chose Protector to help us avoid problems with spraying, and it has given us confidence. Staff members have been trained and now everyone knows how to use the app. Right now, we're preparing product stock data and the number of applications," explains the Agritech Consultant.
After going digital, TMG says goodbye to paper forever
"Despite advances in digitalization in some areas, we felt the need to get things off the ground. Going digital, becoming more sustainable, especially when it comes to controlling our vegetation houses (greenhouses where research takes place). It's an environment that needs to be closely monitored, from staff entry times to the tasks they perform. All this is done to keep the environment as safe as possible and free from any outside interference. These checks used to be done using notebooks," says Juliana Gonçalves Jamus, TMG's Regulatory Coordinator.
Having been in operation since 2001, there are countless greenhouse and field control notebooks on file. Similarly, there are countless problems relating to notebooks in the fields. Whether it's the pouring rain that leaves notes smudged, disappearing notebooks, staff members who have to get off the machine, stop what they're doing, and then remember to record their activities, and so on.
As with all Syngenta Digital customers, TMG relies on the advice and support of a Digital Transformation Specialist. In TMG's case, this service is provided remotely by Sâmia Rogel, who, being aware of their desire to increasingly apply precision farming techniques to the control process, has developed an innovative strategic approach in partnership with TMG's innovation team to help meet this demand. "We combined our knowledge with Syngenta Digital's expertise to solve the problem. I'd like to highlight the quality of communication we have with your service. It's fantastic," says Raphael.
"Since the field team already knew how to use Protector, we thought it would be a great solution," says Juliana. It just worked. The test was carried out during the winter harvest and it enabled TMG to control entries and tasks in the fields more accurately, as well as monitoring the GPS coordinates of its staff. Once this data is entered, a daily report is issued to help with decision-making.
"It's amazing working with customers like TMG. It's very rewarding. There's always something new for us to develop together. We worked in close partnership to create this tailor-made solution. Us at Syngenta Digital and them at TMG. In order to reach the final outcome, we held meetings and tested solutions until we found the best fit for them," says Sâmia. Now, the idea is to improve on these methods and apply them in other Brazilian states.
The near future
Since Protector is fully customizable, countless new features can be created within the platform. This is what appeals most to TMG's innovation team, which has already made another request known to Sâmia: the development of a machine checklist feature. "When machines return to base, the technician has to check a number of things, such as whether there is any plant debris on the machine, the condition of tractor tires and other parts, the cleanliness of the car, and so on. This is to ensure that no plant material is carried from one field to another. This checklist is still made on paper," explains Raphael.
The idea is for tasks to be carried out via the app, including the logging of photos and the georeferenced location of technicians. "Data will be stored, writing will be standardized, there will be an understanding of how to filter information and the best part is that we'll be able to carry out countless activities on the same platform through Cropwise Protector," says Raphael.
By Luisa Torres