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Fernando Palha Leite

Cenibra's Forestry R&D Coordinator


In addition to machinery and equipment

Modernization can be understood as the replacement of old systems, methods and equipment with modern ones, following the evolution and trends of the current world. Within this concept, are we really managing to effectively modernize the eucalyptus wood production process in Brazil? Or are we just adopting some fads (what appears and passes quickly, ephemeral things)?

Probably, the answers to these questions will be elaborated and justified along two lines, one in the form of corporate self-praise, placing the sector as an absolute reference in all aspects of modernization, and another recognizing that there has been modernization in several aspects, but some strategies have not had the expected successes, with the need for self-criticism and recognizing that readjustments must be made in order to really follow the path of a more effective and comprehensive modernization.

In relation to respect for the environment, social and governance issues, such as practices of valuing safety at work, diversity, inclusion and the incorporation of a culture of compliance in the day-to-day activities of companies in the sector, undoubtedly great advances in recent years, which must be valued and strengthened. In this case, there was great adherence of these actions to the trends of the current world and, therefore, we can consider that there has been modernization. However, many of the methodologies that are being used to guarantee increases in plantation productivity and in the reduction of wood production costs were not very effective, indicating that there is a large space for modernization actions aimed at reversing these trends.

Analyzing the evolution of the productivity of eucalyptus plantations in Brazil in recent years and the behavior of wood production costs in this period, a plausible conclusion would be that more fads, or inefficient methodologies, were adopted than actually implementing modernization processes. robust and effective. This consideration can be made from the analysis of the productivity gain rates of eucalyptus in Brazil, which have been null or even negative in recent years.

This trend, together with the increase in production expenses, have contributed to considerable increases in the cost of wood delivered to the factories, proving that, in these aspects, there was no “modernization” in this period. Recognizing the existence of modernization gaps related to the processes that control the productivity of plantations, several methodologies currently adopted should be more questioned and, subsequently, improved or modernized. As examples of strategies or methods that should be rethought, we can mention:

1. Methodology for generating commercial clones. Considering that the most planted clone in Brazil, currently, was generated more than 30 years ago, it can be deduced that some breeding programs were not able, in this time horizon, to develop a material superior to this one, probably due to the fragility of the methodologies that are being used in order to generate new commercial clones. Indicators on the useful life of clones and the comparison of the performance of clones generated in the companies' programs with the performance of market clones can serve to inform about the effectiveness of current methodologies for generating new clones.

2. Management of soil physics. The understanding of the impairment of the physical structure of soils in the cultivation areas throughout the rotations, their impacts on plantation productivity and on soil and water conservation, as well as the adoption of soil management methods that can prevent or reverse these impacts , have also evolved very little in recent years. The use of wooden forwarding equipment with high load capacity and the reduction of crop rotation time imply the imposition of pressures of these equipments on the soil well above their load-bearing capacity and more frequently, compromising its structure and, consequently, the soil functions dependent on this attribute.

3. Fertilizer recommendation methods. Updating the values of nutrient recovery rates by eucalyptus, extractors used in soil analysis compatible with the evaluation of soil fertility for perennial crops, adjustments of nutrient absorption models throughout the rotation and dose calibration curves also do not are very common nowadays. The significant increase in the price of fertilizers in recent years further reinforces the need to improve these methodologies and makes room for “fads”, such as the use of alternative sources of fertilizers with low agronomic efficiency, and for “special” fertilizers with high efficiency. often not proportional to the price of these products.

4. Impartial and reliable methodologies for understanding the water-eucalyptus relationship. Clarifications on the effects of land use with perennial crops on the dynamics of the hydrological cycle and its long-term impacts on eucalyptus productivity will also drive the adoption of more modern management practices. Indicators such as the Rainfall Rainfall Evapotranspiration of the crop are very useful in diagnosing possible impacts of eucalyptus and other crops on components of the hydrological cycle, allowing to make some inferences about the impact of the crop on the dynamics of water replacement in the soil profile and in the supply of water courses.

5. Wood quality and its potential to optimize the performance of the industrial process for the production of bleached pulp. Little has been done to expand and effectively implement knowledge about this relationship. In practice, in a scenario like the current one, of relative scarcity of wood, it is difficult to take advantage of the knowledge available in this area.

In-depth and quality works in the areas mentioned above are relatively complex, expensive, time-consuming and have little media effect. However, companies that are taking serious action in these areas are likely to be those least vulnerable to fads and more likely to structure a eucalyptus production process that is more in line with best practices, which will guarantee an increase in plantation productivity rates and a reduction in production costs. Practices that result in effective productivity gains and cost reductions will always be considered modern.

When we work with plant production, whether in the agricultural or forestry sector, if apparently basic issues are not very well resolved, the use of “state-of-the-art” machines and implements will have little effect in contributing to the real sustainability of the wood production process. Modern machines and equipment do not match old productivity.