(Photo: General manager for Latam Southern Cone, Obdulio San Martín, kicked off the soybean summit)
Los Cardales, August 22th. Today, soybean seed company Don Mario run its annual soybean technical summit. One of the key points addressed by officials from the company was how to close the yield gap between the 5% top farms and the average. This gap have been estimated at 26%. For instance, in the Núcleo zone (something like the “soybean-belt”) while top farmers collect 5.7 tons per hectare, the others average 4.5 tons. In the Centre zone, the gap arounds 1.4 tons, from an average of 4.8 tons/ha versus 6.2 tons/ha in the most productive farms.
Development manager, Jeronimo Costanzi, explained that just choosing the appropiate soybean variety could improve 13% the yields, i.e. a half of the total gap. He showed how a correct election of the Maturity Group for any environment boosts the yield. Adding a correct management (nutrition, planting date, seeding rate, etc) farmers will be closer to improve their yields.
The Don Mario’s proposal is vital to the country. Argentina is harvesting 56 MMT if climate helps, like occurred last campaign. In this context, to close the gap would mean to harvest additional 14 MMT, worth of US$5,000 million at the currently FOB prices.
Also, the company is working with gene-editing tools. Mr. Ezequiel Pozzo told to the audience that first gene-edited varieties will released in the next five years, but other varieties, edited to achieve higher yields, will demand 10 years. He added that the goal is to achieve 2% of annual genetic gain. “Farmers will be able to harvest 20% more tons in ten years if we achieve this goal”, he said.
But the company also is a formidable data generator, data that are being analyzed to understand how environment, genetic and management interact to determine yields. An accurate understanding of this variables will help to close this gap.