Since the beginning of the colonial era, agriculture has been the main driver of Brazilian economic growth. As the country’s premier manufacturer of seed planters and sowers, Semeato S/A is revolutionizing machinery and techniques and greatly improving farming processes. Reuben Ford explains how the company continues to sow the seeds of success in Brazil and abroad.
In the 1960s most of the machinery for agriculture in Brazil was imported. The shortage of replacement parts however, created the need for a national producer and in 1965 Mecânica Agrícola Rossato was founded with the intention of supplying parts and mechanics for these imported models. The company grew considerably in the 1970s by introducing one of the first lines of agricultural machines made in Brazil. With the considerable expansion of the agrarian economy in that decade, the company changed its name to Semeato S/A, and embraced a crucial role as an innovator and pioneer in the industry. In particular, Semeato began working with a new and revolutionary concept of no-till farming; machinery which allows the seeds and grains to be sown without interfering with the top-soil and with no need for hoeing or ploughing. In the 1980s the company focused its efforts on developing technologically advanced no-till machinery and implements. Today, the company continues to play a key role in the implementation of no-till farming as leader in the domestic market.
Semeato produces machinery for the implementation of the no-till system. The machines fall into three main categories. The first is planters, which are intended for use with large grains such as corn, soybeans, sorghum, delinted cotton and sunflower seeds. Secondly, the company produces sowers, which are idealized for small grains such as rice, barley, wheat, oats and millet. Third, a multiple drill line combines the two types in one implement. The range of equipment in each area caters to all, from the large-scale producer to the smaller farmer.
The flexibility of the lines is a feature unique to Semeato. The machines are not simply bought off-the-shelf, but are customized to the needs of the professional and the land. “One machine can be assembled in hundreds of different ways,” says marketing spokesperson Roberta Rossato, “and can be adapted to the requirements of our customers.” Although the lines are popular with the high end of the market, this makes the products accessible to smaller agricultural businesses who want the best quality. Semeato also produces other machines, which facilitate the farming process; for example, fertilizer distributors, haymaking equipments, and other tools. In 2008 three new machines have been launched, broadening the range available and introducing a new implement for the farming of sugar cane. True to its roots, Semeato also manufactures parts for all machines, the largest line being disc blades. The blades are produced by the company’s subsidiary Cia Semeato de Aços (CSA). CSA produces special steel alloy products, including the Stallion brand of cross rolled agricultural disc blades and sweeps, called Discos Cavalinho. Due to its vertical integration, the subsidiary is able to control the quality of its raw materials through the supply chain and guarantee the superior reliability of its products. Semeato machines are only compatible with Semeato parts and blades. As Rossato explains, “The superior quality of our products means that any others will simply not be as good as they need to be.”
It is not only in Brazil that Semeato’s quality is recognized. In 2000 the company began concentrating also on the external market. “It is mainly agricultural machines we are exporting at present,” says Rossato, “and mainly to Europe and South America.” With 14 distributors worldwide, including as far away as Australia, Semeato’s success is certainly reflected in its growth, and today export sales account for 40 percent of Semeato’s annual revenue. Even with the market downturn in 2005 and 2006, the company has grown by 38 percent in the last three years.
Semeato is based in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and consists of three manufacturing and assembly units, a disc blades manufacturing plant, two foundries and a research and development center. The factories are each responsible for a range of products and cover areas of 45,000 square meters, 27,000 square meters, and 260,000 square meters, the latter producing the bigger structure machines. Each plant is a complete manufacturing unit, including stamping, milling shop, welding, surface treatment, painting and assembling of the final product. The largest location even includes plastic injection and roto molding, for its own machines and other units. The disc blades are produced at one of the CSA units; a 250,000-square-meter subsidiary that produces for the Cavalinho brand, which is also exported. The two foundries manufacture parts for Semeato machinery and for other clients in South America, especially the automotive industry. The first foundry produces steel, gray, & ductile iron in an area of 17,000 square meters. The second foundry is the only unit that is not in Rio Grande do Sul; Semeato Vespasiano in the state of Minas Gerais covers 400,000 square meters and manufactures mechanical and forged parts in special, medium and low steel alloy.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Semeato’s research and development center is considered one of the most important units in the group. It is there that engineers develop the latest technology for no-till drills and planters. In this plant industrial engineering teams are constantly researching the most modern production techniques. The unit is funded entirely with company revenue and constitutes a huge investment by Semeato. The company has helped thousands of farmers to increase profitability in the field. One example of this evolution is the patented Guillotine system fertilizer opener attachment, which permits a deeper penetration and provides better aeration, moisture infiltration and root growth, and promoting larger yield with less surface disturbance.
Semeato distinguishes itself from others in its capacity to develop new products, which use the latest technology. The machines are specific to each region of Brazil or to the country in which they are used. This means that the company offers a range of machines and experience, which together provide independent farming solutions increasing the productivity and financial return for farmers.
As pioneers in the production of no-till machinery in Brazil, Semeato is contributing to farming history. The no-till system provides a sustainable agriculture, with several benefits for the rural product as well as for humanity, environment and the future of agriculture worldwide. It not only brings benefits in terms of better soil utilization and increasing productivity, but also for the environment, reducing erosion, sedimentation in rivers and lakes and preserves living organisms in the soil. These are features that Semeato is proud to highlight. Treatment of the soil and the current practices greatly influence farming in the future. With the no-till system, farmers increase the performance of their businesses, with more productive harvests, reduced costs, and reduced labor with the ecological and social advantages of the reduced use of fertilizers, reduced energy consumption, maintenance of organic matter diversification in the soil and the use of systemic herbicides with less toxicity content than those used in the conventional seeding.
Semeato S/A focuses its efforts on developing farming machines for different cultures and regions, creating flexible solutions for agricultural needs both on a domestic and international scale. Concentrating 100 percent of its farming products line on protection of the soil, Semeato’s machinery not only modernizes farming practices but also preserves the environment, leaving a legacy for future generations.