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Gabriel de Carvalho Delalibera

Forestry Market Development from FMC Soluções Agrícolas


Challenges and opportunities in controlling weed competition

In constant technological development, the planted forest sector occasionally observes significant increases in productivity, in relation to the national average, in plantations around the country. This is largely due to the mastery of some challenges in the process, which draw our attention.

Weed competition is certainly one of these challenges, in addition to having a significant representation in the costs of forest implantation, around 30% of the total cost, it can also be responsible for losses of up to 80% in total productivity, due to the competition generated. in the first two years, which places us in a scenario of high viability of this management, making evident the importance and all the attention dedicated to the control of weeds in forest plantations.

Given the continentality of Brazil, the complexity in the management of invasive plants grows even more with different climatic conditions, high diversity in weed species (some of them with resistance or tolerance to traditional herbicides), soil characteristics and differences in management. In addition, in recent years we have been able to observe some atypical situations in relation to the climate, thermal and water regime, which can be attributed to a process of global climate change.

In recent years, we have been following a large movement in the pesticide industry to provide a greater number of tools and products for the control of invasive plants, especially in the eucalyptus crop, where, in the past, we had only 2 active principles registered. Currently, we already have 24 active ingredients available, between pre- and post-emergent. This range of tools is extremely important and opens up several possibilities for improving the performance and cost of weed management in planted forests.

And how am I going to understand and use these tools in the best way? In fact, there are a number of factors that must be analyzed, the first of which is to know the characteristics of the products that are available, their behavior in the environment and their residual performance, in the case of pre-emergent products. In a second evaluation, we define the moment and objective of the application; then, if it will be in pre- or post-planting and, later, if the control will be in pre- or post-emergence of the weeds. That said, it's time to analyze the time of year when the management will be carried out.

An important tip is to divide the year into four distinct periods, which should happen as follows: wet season (full rain), semi-dry (transition to dry season), dry (no rain) and semi-humid (transition to the rainy season). All these analyzes mentioned together with the evaluation of the area that will be managed, taking into account the culture of interest, the stage of plant development, main species and soil characteristics, are also extremely important for decision making.

Analyzing broadly, we are faced with opportunities in management, for example: in recent years, a clear expansion of the use of pre-emergent herbicides with prolonged residual action in the implantation and maintenance of forests has been observed, that is, with population of weeds below the economic damage level.

Well positioned, this management provides significant reductions in the number of operations and interventions carried out in the forest, which brings a gain, not only in productivity, but also in terms of sustainability, which include the direct optimization of human, water and fuel resources, in addition to the evident opportunity to reduce costs with weed management. Evolution has brought us these great opportunities and, today, we can say that the future of weed competition management is in our hands.

One thing is for sure: first of all, it is necessary to know how to correctly position each of these tools, so that we can explore the best of each one of them. Products well positioned at the moment, target and application conditions provide the desired operational result and the performance that conditions a clean forest free from the damages of weed competition.

And the future?

With the high speed of evolution in digital forestry, soon, we will be able to see a series of initiatives for identification, mapping and programming of weed control through satellite images or even Remotely Piloted Aircraft. We are already seeing this movement happen, and it will be another tool to help us in decision making in the management of weeds. In addition, application modalities have also been evolving rapidly, the entry of drones in this scenario is already a reality, in addition to other initiatives, such as ultra-low volume equipment, may appear as solutions for improving operational performance, greater reduction of costs and impacts. application environmental.