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Large-scale farming allows for economizing on fuel usage per hectare
One of the benefits of the large-scale farming model we use for our own crop production is that we can operate the largest available models of farming machinery – farmers with a couple thousand hectares do not have sufficient acreage to justify investments in such large equipment. Larger tractors and harvesters allow for spending less fuel per hectare, with savings in the range of 10-40%. To be precise, the fuel usage by our farming machinery is the largest single point of greenhouse emissions in our business model, thus we pay foremost attention to minimizing the fuel consumption of our available machinery fleet. During the financial year ended 30 June 2014, we finished installing GPS trackers in our fuel-intensive farming fleet, which allows us to control the movements of any tractor or combine harvesters from clusters’ offices and from the centralized dispatch center.
Another benefit from our modern fleet comes with the minimization of food losses during harvesting: a comparison of a modern harvester with outdated equipment shows that up to 5-7% of crops can be saved if modern equipment is used.
Implementing precise farming practices
One of our farming clusters is pioneering the implementation of precise farming technology, which is a set of management practices aimed at using fewer inputs such as fertilizer and seeds to achieve the same high level of land productivity. Essentially, precise farming – which is a contemporary topic at any global agriculture conference – is based on measuring the interregional distribution of crop yields and nutrient availability across different points in the fields. Knowing and analyzing this data allows us to apply differentiated quantities of inputs so that no excess fertilizer is put on the rich portions of fields or that higher quantities of seeds are used in areas where plant growth intensity is low for whatever reason. As there is no ready toolbox for precise farming globally, our approach is to develop knowledge and rollout this technology gradually.
Conserving water with mini-till farming technology
A significant portion of our farming acreage is farmed with mini-till farming technology, which has a significant impact on conserving water in the fields and reducing fuel usage. Mini-till farming technology reduces tillage to only the highest layer of soil, thus decreasing land surface and respectively diminishing water evaporation and conserving valuable water for crops. The mini-till technology also results in a significant amount of crop residue being left on the fields, which slows the movement of water, reduces soil erosion, and retains organic fertilizing nutrients contained therein.
We also apply prudent crop rotation schedules suitable for each productive area and use balanced fertilization, as well as integrated pest and weed management, to increase the long-term productivity of each area.