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Monday, April 15, 2024

How is the relationship of productivity, irrigation and costs in agribusiness

The relationship between productivity, irrigation and costs in agribusiness has been a topic for debate for a long time. So much so that we have already debunked some myths about the use of water in agribusiness.

It is now time to take the subject to a new level, focused on the discussion of irrigation systems, its different types, its importance for productivity, among other themes.

And who talks with us is Fernando Campos Mendonça, professor of the MBA USP/Esalq in Agribusiness. Check out what he commented on productivity, irrigation and costs in agribusiness!

General overview about productivity, irrigation and costs in agribusiness

First, it is necessary to understand one thing: irrigation aims to nourish plantations with as much water as they need and, along with other control and development actions, assist and contribute effectively in increasing crop productivity and in reducing unnecessary costs.

Based on this information, three factors interconnect. And, according to Mendonça, in the case of irrigation, there are different consequences of the good use of this resource.

“The use of irrigation modifies the production environment and, consequently, increases productivity and reduces the unit cost of agricultural production. Its effect goes beyond the simple elimination or reduction of water deficiency, since it allows new techniques to be used in the field, such as using water as a vehicle for the application of chemical and organic fertilizers (fertirrigation), biological control products and growth stimulants (bioirrigation) and some chemical control products (insecticides and fungicides),

“Several research and data works from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) show that the irrigated area in the world represents about 18% of the total agricultural area and accounts for 44% of production, while dry agriculture occupies 82% of the area and accounts for 56% of agricultural production”, the professor added.

Irrigation cultures

To talk about productivity, irrigation and costs in agribusiness, the professor explains, between the two types of agriculture – irrigated and dryland – which one is more efficient.

“Regarding the use of water, irrigated agriculture is more efficient than dryland. With this, the analysis of water productivity can be verified, which is the relationship between the productivity of an agricultural culture and the water made available, usually presented in kg/m³ or in kg/mm.”

Irrigation methods and systems

There are several types of irrigation systems, each one being designed for a type of task and objective. Besides, each system goes along a specific method. Mendonça presents these methods and systems:

  • Method: Surface irrigation
    Systems: flood, tracks and grooves

  • Method: aspersion irrigation
    Systems: self-propelled, conventional sprinkling, central and lateral mobile pivot,

  • Method: localized irrigation
    Systems: microaspersion and surface drip

  • Method: Underground irrigation
    Systems: elevation of the phreatic sheet (drained areas), subirrigation (substrate or soil moistened from the bottom up, common in greenhouses) and underground drip

Benefits of irrigation projects

One of the crucial objectives for agricultural producers is profitability, which, by the way, can only be fully achieved with the application of actions that enable irrigation of culture in a correct way, reducing to the maximum the waste of water, energy and time. Mendonça comments on the benefits of the use of an irrigation project.

“If installed with environmental authorisation and well planned by trained professionals, irrigation projects boost productivity and profitability in agricultural activities. A well-developed and well executed project contributes to eliminate water restriction, increase productivity, reduce the risk of loss of production, the unit cost of production and can even reduce the premium of agricultural insurance”, he says.

The influence of agricultural culture

As a last subject to be discussed about productivity, irrigation and costs in agribusiness, cultures can have great influence. Mendonça explains the fundamental role of agricultural cultures.

“The culture, or the set of agricultural cultures to be irrigated, is a fundamental part in the definition of the characteristics of the irrigation project. Details such as plant architecture, percentage of land occupation, water needs and the critical period regarding water availability are among the most important details of a project, along with the climatic, soil and relief.”

“Besides, cultures can even define the method and irrigation system to be used. For example, cultures such as coffee, orange and grape occupy part of the soil and can be irrigated by sprinkling, microaspersion or drip. Rice is more commonly irrigated by flood, but the sprinkler by central pivot has been gaining space in this culture. And pastures are usually irrigated with systems like conventional sprinkling or central pivot”, emphasizes the professor.

The fact is that all of these factors work together, depend on each other, to strengthen agribusiness and generate more and more profit and less waste. It is up to producers to use the best resources for their culture and apply technical knowledge in their daily life.

To acquire this knowledge and learn more about productivity, irrigation and costs in agribusiness, the MBA USP/Esalq in Agribusiness is the perfect place for you! Enroll now and take another fundamental step in your career.


Acacio Junior
Acacio Junior
Husband, Christian, in love with life and good friendships. A long journey until here made possible my integration on the Communication world, and now I venture into production of written contents and, honestly, I could not be happier. Currently, I found myself in the scripts and the daily learnings in a world full of stories I hope to discover.