In Brazil, paraquat is helping farmers to harvest more sugarcane, more efficiently. The fast and thorough desiccation achieved by paraquat means faster harvesting, more profitable cropping and less environmental impact.
Production of sugarcane in Brazil has doubled in the past decade and is forecast to double again in the next1,2. As a biofuel feedstock sugarcane is attractive because of its high net energy gain. However, its impact on the environment and opportunities for food production are under scrutiny. Minimizing land use by increasing yield, and protecting biodiversity and the environment are important.
Leading environmental group WWF states that a major improvement in the sustainability of sugarcane crop management would be to eliminate burning the crop prior to harvest.
Benefits of paraquat harvest aid
No need to burn cane
Soil organic matter increased
Less fuel used by harvesters
Less leaf trash in harvested cane
15+% lower transport costs
Setting fire to the crop removes the leaves, but does little damage the stems. This increases the proportion of useful harvested material, ie the cane stems, and reduces risks to laborers harvesting the crops who might be cut by sharp leaf edges or bitten by snakes.