KSG Agro agricultural holding’s crop production
Crop production is one of the agricultural holding’s top priorities
The history of KSG Agro agricultural holding began in 2001, when the first enterprise of the Group was created – ATD Dniprovskyi – with a land bank of about 5,000 hectares. In different periods that have passed since that time, the land bank was different, and currently it is about 20,000 ha.
Taking into account the climatic features of the Dnipropetrovsk region, where the holding's farms are concentrated, the basket of cultivated crops is stable from year to year: winter wheat, barley, rapeseed; spring sunflower, corn, and sorghum, as well as winter and spring peas.
Most of the holding's crop farms are located in the Apostolovsky district of the Dnipropetrovsk region, in the villages of Novopokrovka, Zatyshne, and Pershotravneve.
In order to increase yield and reduce harvest losses, the holding uses only the best agricultural machinery. In particular, New Holland, John Deere, etc. equipment is used. John Deere machines can perform various operations using many technologies, including No-till.
Recently, climate changes in the Dnipropetrovsk region are becoming more and more noticeable. The impact of summer droughts is negative, which is exacerbated by the problem of soil compaction and erosion. According to experts' estimates, today about 70% of all soils in Ukraine are overcompacted, and only 20% have signs of light compaction, 40% have an average degree of compaction, and about 10% of soils are characterized by significant compaction. Soil compaction "steals" 20-25% of crops every year. In order to improve the situation, KSG Agro farms complement the classic agricultural technologies with vertical tillage. For this, the Max-Chisel technique from Great Plains is used, allowing to improve the condition of soil and increase the productivity of crops.
This treatment is especially effective in fields where wind and water erosion are observed. In particular, it prevents the formation of deep, excessively compacted layers, which impair the capillarity of soil, and therefore prevent the normal development of the plants’ root system. Vertical tillage improves the exchange of moisture and air, increases the amount of humus, and enables the roots to penetrate into the deep soil layers. All this stimulates the increase of harvests and contributes to the reduction of costs for cultivation of each hectare.
Results of 2021
According to the results of 2021, KSG Agro farms collected the best harvest in the last 10 years, which was the result not only of favorable weather conditions, but also of the optimal use of the latest technologies, plant protection products, fertilizers, etc.
In particular, in terms of cultures, the following indicators were achieved:
- Winter wheat – 30,659 tons were collected, the yield was 43.6 tons/ha,
- Winter barley – 8449 tons, 46.5 tons/ha,
- Winter triticale – 470.9 t, 46 t/ha,
- Winter rape – 513.8 tons, 14.1 t/ha,
- Sunflower – 19550.8 t, 27.1 t/ha,
- Sorghum – 1529.4 t, 42.3 t/ha,
- Corn – 9333.5 tons, 83.3 t/ha.
A total of 70,506.4 t was harvested, which is 75% higher than the 2020 figure of 38,152 t.
The priority in the plant growing segment is to increase the land use efficiency.
At present, the classic technology of growing agricultural crops is used in crop production, which includes a complex of agrotechnological operations, including the processing of soil with circulation of the layer and without circulation at a depth of 25 - 30 cm.
In the current period and in the future, in order to improve the efficiency of land use, KSG Agro plans to switch to more innovative technologies for growing agricultural crops.
Today, modern agricultural systems are aimed at saving soil, biological, and water resources, and even reducing the cost of production. In soil cultivation technologies, much attention is paid to the gradual accumulation of plant (harvest) residues on the soil surface. This approach significantly improves the nutrition conditions for soil microorganisms due to enrichment with easily decomposable organic matter, and also protects soil from direct sunlight.
The idea of cultivating soil using minimum costs, and at the same time creating more optimal conditions for the growth and development of crops, has existed for a long time. On the basis of many years of research and experiments, a new method of soil treatment, Strip-till, was developed. This method is about minimal tillage. It combines the advantages of conventional tillage, including faster spring drying and warming, with the ability to protect soils from erosion. This type of processing is carried out with the help of special equipment called Strip-till cultivators.
Strip-till, in comparison with the classic system, contributes to significant fuel savings, by approximately 2-4 times. Savings occur due to a reduction in the number of passes on the field. Strip-till contributes to an increase in yield of up to 25%. The use of strip processing guarantees the formation of a longer and branched root system in plants. The increase in total root volume is 20-40% compared to traditional technology. This improves plant access to soil moisture and nutrients. A more powerful root system, under such treatment, allows the plant to cover more fertile horizon. The yield of crops in the Strip-till format increases due to greater accumulation of soil moisture and, accordingly, a noticeable decrease in the dependence of crop yield on dry weather conditions.
Strip-till helps to save money on fertilizers of up to 50%. Savings on the purchase of mineral fertilizers is due to the local application of fertilizers to the root zone.
Strip-till helps preserve the soil’s natural fertility. Strip-till technology is used gradually every year: the content of organic matter (humus) increases; there is a decrease in soil density; the water infiltration rate goes up. Due to the preservation of the stubble of the predecessor, the erosion danger becomes less.
Strip-till helps to reduce costs for agricultural machinery and labor. Since only 30% of the soil surface is cultivated, tractor power requirements per unit area are reduced, and equipment wear becomes less due to fewer field passes. As practice shows, the cost of equipment for processing is 70% lower.
The absence of autumn peak loads, pre-sowing soil preparation in the spring, simultaneous performance of several operations lead to a decrease in labor costs.
We plan to introduce another innovation – drip irrigation. In the future, we are going to use up to 5,000 hectares of agricultural land for irrigation. At the first stage, 150 hectares of drip irrigation will be allocated for monoculture corn, with a planned yield of 14 t/ha, which will cover up to 30% of the needs in this culture for our pig complex.
Another factor in improving the land bank efficiency is the introduction of a leguminous culture in the crop rotation – peas, and both traditional spring and winter peas of the Serbian selection "Frost", the seedbed of which has already been planted on an area of 50 hectares. The introduction of this crop as a precursor to winter wheat allows for a guaranteed increase in the yield of the latter by 5-10 centners/ha, as well as getting protein feed for pig farming.