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Industry News » Seed biotechnology market expands, insecticide use falls in Brazil: Study

The market for seed biotechnology for controlling caterpillars in soybeans has been consolidated and is expanding in Brazil, while the use of specific insecticides for caterpillars has dropped in value from US$1.3 billion to US$422 million over seven harvests, according to a survey by Spark Smarter Decisions, which has been seen first-hand by AgroPages.
Data from a Business Intelligence Panel (BIP) Spark Soybean study pointed out that the emergence of new biotechnologies boosted the growth of the oilseed market to BRL15.593 billion, an increase of 40% compared to the previous crop, when it was BRL11.162 billion.

According to Spark, seeds with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) technology have been used on 81% of cultivated areas, while this figure with Roundup Ready (RR) seeds has reached 99%.

According to Spark's project coordinator, Lucas Alves, BIP Spark Soybean stated that Bt seeds occupied 6 million hectares, or 20% of the planted area for oilseed in the 2014-15 period. “In the previous harvest, these technologies occupied 30.6 million hectares, an accumulated increase of 400%,” he said.

“Before Bt soybeans, the caterpillar complex was the main concern of producers, in terms of pests. Biotechnology has quickly become a strategic pillar for the management of pests, such as the soybean caterpillar, the false worm, the apple worm, and the underarm borer,” Alves added.

According to Alves, the advancement in Bt soy has also made it possible to reduce the use of pesticides against caterpillars, stating, “Soybean caterpillars required 64% of foliar insecticides during the 2014-15 crop, or around US$1.3 billion in value. Today, these products are equivalent to 28% of the segment, or US$422 million.”

Alves stressed that RR-type seeds are also advancing at a rapid pace, harvest after harvest, among the preferred technologies of producers. “RRs had an adoption rate of more than 90% over the last seven harvests, and occupied 99% of crops in the 2020-21 cycle. There is already a unanimity among producers concerning the benefits delivered by RRs,” he said.

For Alves, the biotechnologies that have reached the market can help expand the spectrum of caterpillar control and make the use of various herbicides more flexible, adding that these technological advances directly contributed to an increase in the average productivity of Brazilian soybeans, from 49 bags per hectare during the 2014-15 period to 59 bags per hectare in the last harvest, an increase of 20%. Also, according to Alves, the area planted with oilseed grew 5% to 38 million hectares, compared with 35.9 million hectares in the 2019-20 harvest.

According to Spark, the largest producer during the 2020-21 crop, Mato Gross, remains in the lead with 10 million hectares or 27% of planted area, while second in the ranking was Rio Grande do Sul, accounting for 16% or 5.9 million hectares, followed by Paraná with 15% or 5.6 million hectares. Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul cultivated 3.7 million hectares and 3.1 million hectares, equivalent to 10% and 8% of the total area sown, respectively.

Spark's management said the BIP Spark Soybean 2020-21 survey was conducted during interviews involving almost 4,000 farmers from major producing regions, adding this month, that it will anticipate the release of the BIP Soy related to the 2021-22 crop, which is being harvested.

Source: AgroNews

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