In a recent poll I carried out about sustainability initiatives, a lot of the respondents replied that they considered new, more efficient agricultural practices such as vertical and precision agriculture to be of greatest sustainability importance. But what is precision agriculture and how does trace element analysis fit in with it?
To answer this question, I recently interviewed Dr. Carlos Brait, Director of Laboratório Exata, Jataí, Goiás, Brazil. Read on to discover more about this innovative sustainability topic for yourself…
What’s your name and how long have you worked at Laboratório Exata?
My name is Carlos Brait. I have worked at Laboratório Exata as a Chemist since its foundation in 1997.
What do Laboratório Exata do?
Exata is a laboratory focused on chemical and biological analysis for agriculture. Some examples are analysis of soil, plant leaves, cattle feed and fertilisers for both potentially toxic (i.e. heavy metals) and essential elements. The analysis results are useful for soil composition correction and optimising fertilization. Precision agriculture is used to optimize those management practices.
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What exactly is meant by ‘precision agriculture’ and how does this approach benefit farmers and the environment?
Precision agriculture is the use of imaging tools, drones and equipment for variable input distribution coupled with soil and leaves analysis to enable more efficient management of the planting area and to obtain higher productivity and profitability. Precision agriculture processes improve input distributions, minimize the overflow of nutrients into the environment and reduce costs.
Why do you need to measure elements in soil samples and why did you purchase a Thermo Scientific™ iCAP™ PRO ICP-OES for your elemental analysis?
The measurement of essential elements is needed for a correct evaluation of soil fertility and plant nutrition. The Thermo Scientific iCAP PRO ICP-OES allows for low quantification limits, high analysis speed, robustness and low expenditure of gas and consumable materials. With its charge injection device (CID) detector, all the elements we need to measure can be detected simultaneously using only one, radial view reading. For us, that last capability is a particularly beneficial feature of the iCAP PRO instrument.
How do you see precision agriculture evolving in the future?
Precision agriculture will continue to grow in Brazil and Latin America in the years to come. At present, only about 15% of Brazilian agriculture is using this technology, but since production costs are lowered and productivity increased with this approach, the prospects for growth are huge. Precision agriculture is here to stay, since it is an effective way to minimize the use of resources and helps protect and sustain the environment.
Thank you Dr. Brait for sharing your interesting and informative insights into the current capabilities of precision agriculture, the role that ICP-OES has to play in this area and the future potential of this innovative approach to farming.
If you would like to know more about what ICP-OES technology can provide for your trace elemental analysis, take a look at our iCAP PRO product pages here.
To explore our full range of AA, ICP-OES and ICP-MS instruments, head to our trace elemental analysis instrumentation page.
For more in-depth information relating to trace elemental analysis of soil, water and food samples, please visit our Environmental and Food and Beverage analysis web resources.
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