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Registration of Biological Pest Control Products Exceeds That of Agrochemicals in Brazil

Registration of Biological Pest Control Products Exceeds That of Agrochemicals in Brazil

The number of biological products registered in Brazil in recent years for crop protection against agricultural pests has surpassed that of agrochemicals. Around 90% of the area under sugarcane cultivation in the country, for example, already uses natural enemies such as microorganisms, macroorganisms, biochemicals (compounds of natural origin that control pests and diseases) and semiochemicals (molecules that induce behavioral responses in target organisms).

The data were presented by José Maurício Simões Bento, a professor at the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture at the University of São Paulo (ESALQ-USP), in a panel discussion on intelligent agriculture during FAPESP Week Illinois, on April 10, in Chicago (United States).

“There are currently around 629 biological products registered in Brazil for pest control, involving microorganisms, macroorganisms, biochemicals and semiochemicals. This number has been steadily increasing year after year,” said Bento, who is one of the main researchers at the São Paulo Advanced Research Center for Biological Control (SPARCBio), an Engineering Research Center (ERC) set up by FAPESP in partnership with the company Koppert.

According to the researcher, approximately 20% of the world's agricultural producers use biological products. Brazil leads the way with 55% of farms using biocontrol, compared to 6% in the United States. For biostimulants, the country's share is 50% versus 16%, and for biofertilizers, it is 36% versus 12% for the two countries, respectively.

“Today, Brazil has around 170 biofactories, treating an area of approximately 25 million hectares, and a market that moves more than US$ 1 billion a year, with a growth projection of 15% to 20% a year,” Bento reported.

In plantations of sugarcane – of which Brazil is the world's largest producer, with 22 million hectares planted and a fourfold increase in production over the past 40 years – biological control has been combined with technologies such as monitoring systems, sensors, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles to improve its application.

Smart traps, equipped with cameras that capture images of captured insects attracted by pheromones, have been installed throughout the planted areas.

The images are sent to a central processing unit, where they are processed by software that quantifies the insects captured. Using artificial intelligence tools, the images are processed together with climate data and weather forecasts.

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Photo Credit: gettyimages-mvburling

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