Sustainability is the most important thing for the future of agriculture. Our food and water must be used in a more efficient way in order to cover the need of the growing population. ”Sustainability, for me, is the key in terms of production”, said Rémi Dei-Tos, Row Crop Seeds Production Lead at Bayer, present at the Environmental & Sustainability Summit, organized by Business Review.
”Over the last 10 to 15 years we really shift from a productive model of growing crops to a more respectful and optimized way of producing every crop in the world. The idea is to produce more with less and with less impact on the environment. It is our responsibility as individuals and as companies to achieve that goal,” said Rémi Dei-Tos.
The need of sustainability in the economy and agriculture lead companies to find a solution for better crops with less water and fertilizers. ”When farmers see that they can have bigger crops with these solutions it is obvious that they use it. So far, our network of farmers is supportive of these solutions. They are inclined to have irrigation support with new technology,” said Dei-Tos.
Bayer uses a solution for less water in the irrigation system and helps farmers, directly or through partners, to implement the solution. „The technology allows to see when the plant is in need of water, not when we think it is in need. So we are optimising the usage of water, the moment and the quantity of water given to plants. If we want to go into detail, we can map the soil to figure out which part of the plot keeps the water or not. We can adjust the irrigation so that we pour water only when and where it is needed. We are investing a lot in these solutions for irrigation,” said Rémi Dei-Tos.
There are also technologies for deploying water without evaporating. ”You can see the pipeline of spraying water, a method still used today, but this mode of spraying is losing water by evaporation without even touching the plant. So, we are deploying new techniques to have the water going into the canopy and we are reaching 80 percent efficiency, which is very good. But the next step is drip irrigation, which means that we are bringing inside the soil some pipes and we are maintaining the moisture inside the soil. This is the best way, the efficiency is 95 to 98 percent and we are using the exact amount of water needed and is located at the root of the plant,” said Rémi Dei-Tos.
Watch Rémi Dei-Tos’ first intervention during the Food & Water panel at #ESS2021
He gave the example of Turkey, where irrigation is more important than in Romania, due to the higher temperature in the climate. But the need for irrigation is still needed in our country also. ”We need to reach maximum efficiency of water usage,” said Rémi Dei-Tos.
Very important for sustainability is, also, the weather prediction, so you know exactly when it will rain so you don’t wastewater. ”It is useless to irrigate when it is raining, you just wash away water. So the weather prediction is helping to have a good water management system.”
Of course, the technology, the water management system, doesn’t come cheap. The investment needed can be significant, but the benefits that come with the irrigation system are immediate. ”The cost of water will never stop increasing, so in the end, it is offsetting the investment. We are among the first ones to launch it, but we hope to have it at a global level with lower price solutions. So far, we are supporting the farmers in this direction. We are not promoting irrigation for the sake of irrigation, but it is something that can be beneficial for the farmers, even if the climate is good. But the rain is never enough, so the production increases with the help of the irrigation,” explains Remi Dei-Tos.
The problem with the rainfall is that it is not always coming at the right time. If we compare the crop with the irrigation and without we see that the yield is completely different. ”You have a production of about 8 tonnes without irrigation and 13-14 with irrigation. So the profit made by the farmers is much higher. In the end, it is sustainable and brings more value for the farmers. This is the role we can play as a company,” said Remi Dei-Tos.
”We are working with our partners in deploying the water management system, so far we have implemented it in almost 10,000 ha, another 10,000 ha that have an irrigation system, and almost 1,000 ha that have dripping irrigation or adjusted irrigation. This is all done here in Romania with Romanian farmers.”
In the end, adopting new technologies and creating irrigation systems is a matter of education. The farmers must see what benefits them and it takes time for them to understand what we are doing and how we can help them. ”But there are already farmers that come to us and ask how they can improve the water management system,” explains Rémi Dei-Tos.