Digital farming brings peace of mind to city-dwelling farmer

Sep 05, 2019 by Kelly Barnett

Across the hills of São Paulo state in Brazil, the cherries are ripening on Andre Savino’s coffee plants. Soon they will be bright red, and his first coffee harvest will begin.

It can be a nervous time for growers, with months of investment on the line, but Savino is relaxed, as his new intelligent agriculture system has given him the peace of mind that his investment is being managed perfectly — both on the farm and in the digital sphere.

Coffee is one of the country’s most important and famous crops, but with a changing climate bringing less predictable rainfall, as well as new diseases like coffee rust, keeping the bushes healthy and well-watered is a challenge. A coffee plant grown in less than ideal conditions produces fewer and lower-quality coffee beans, which means a lower sale price and less income for the farmer.

That’s why Savino decided to install precision irrigation. He chose a Netafim drip irrigation system to maximize yield with minimum water use. Precision irrigation also allows direct application of fertilizers to the roots of plants, reducing nutrient runoff.

“Success in agriculture is all about getting the details right. That’s why I’m always looking for data and information. The evolution of irrigation and digital farming is helping maximize my results.”

- Andre Savino, coffee farmer

This was made possible when he upgraded to Netafim’s NetBeat intelligent precision irrigation system.

But coffee is not his only job — Savino is an agronomical engineer who works for a large agriculture corporation in São Paulo city. That’s why he wanted the control and peace of mind of being able to better control his crop from 340 kilometers away.

“At Netafim, we found a company that would not only provide an irrigation system, but also partner with us on this technological quest,” he says.

With NetBeat, sensors were installed in strategic areas of Savino’s fields to measure soil moisture and nutrient levels. This information is sent to a control center, where it, together with detailed weather forecasting and decades of crop knowledge, are analyzed. The result is the most accurate information and recommendations for irrigation and fertigation that will produce the healthiest plants with the best quality and quantity yield.

Andre Savino (right) and a business partner check his coffee crop using the NetBeat app.

Savino receives this information and recommendations directly to an application on his cellphone and tablet. He can then use the application to turn on and off irrigation at the touch of a button.

It’s a system that has given him the peace of mind of knowing his coffee crop is growing in the best possible conditions while he is working, and that he will find his plants watered and cared for to the optimum level when he visits his plantation on the weekend.

“I’m more relaxed, and the reason is that I know there is a structured process that brings me operational tranquility, convenience.”

- Andre Savino, coffee farmer

“It’s the future,” he says. “We believe that this way we will reach a higher level of agriculture.”

When the coffee is picked, Savino expects a large crop that will be of the highest quality, which will fetch a premium price. And above all, taste delicious.