Volume 16 | Issue 5 | Year 2013

Girassol Agrícola Ltda has over 30 years of experience in providing soy seed for the farming industry and is one of the Brazil’s most established and successful agribusinesses.

Today it is part of a group of companies dedicated to successful crop growth and sustainable future in agriculture including livestock rearing.

Girassol invested over $10 million in recent years developing advanced seed treatment processes, increasing productivity.

“Girassol differentiates itself through its contribution to agricultural development, combining products, services, technology and responsibility with present and future market needs,” says founder and president of Girassol, Gilberto Flávio Goellner.

Planting a Seed
Girassol Agrícola was founded in 1977 in Minas Gerais state but moved to the state of Mato Grosso in 1982, to the Serra da Petrovina region where it is located today.

The move consolidated the company’s activities in seed production – soy and cotton, and in soy and corn grains.

Today, Girassol is a reference in the market. The company also has extensive storage facilities for corn and grain, rears cattle and operates reforestation.

Girassol is a market leader in germination and commercialization of soy seeds, licensed by TMG Tropical Melhoramento Genético (a private Brazilian company specializing in soy seed breeding and research and development). It is also the largest stakeholder in UNISOJA/TMG, a national soy and cotton cultivation research program.

“We have always prioritized investment in research and modern farming technology,” Goellner confirms.

Active participation in developing the market and the share in UNISOJA guarantee the company access to the latest genetic data. In 2012, royalties resulting from UNISOJA/TMG (just for Girassol’s part) reached $3 million.

TMG has a 54 percent market share in Mato Grosso and is the third largest germ-plasm (germ cell chromosomes and genes) in Brazil.

Girassol has three seed and three cotton processing units in Mato Grosso, in Pedra Preta, Jaciara and Torixoréo. The company also outsources production at a third location in Bahia state.

Together the facilities provide the highest possible quality and germination standard soy seeds to agriculturalists in 40 kilogram or 1,000 kilogram bags.

“We now offer industrially treated seeds, which have all the protection of insecticides, nematocides and fungicides avoiding disease during germination and planting process,” Goellner explains.

The innovation involves the use of polymers that fix the treatments in the seed.

There are many advantages: agriculturalists have no need to invest application of pesticides (labour and expensive machinery) or run the risk of employee intoxication. The seeds are protected from infection while in storage and harvests are guaranteed, as treated seeds are more productive after planting.

“The productivity of pre-treated seeds is considerably higher, but with much lower environmental impact than conventional seeds,” Goellner resumes.

Reforestation
In 2012, Girassol began forestry mechanization, acquiring two state-of-the-art tree harvesting machines and claws and choppers from high-quality manufacturers like Feller-Buncher and Skidder. The technology opened new markets – developing the biomass and wood industries in the region.

“Forestry mechanization brought new methodology and we invested in training employees to work with the latest technology, which improved their day-to-day work and performance,” Goellner says.

Girassol Reflorestadora (located in Santo Antônio, Mato Grosso) manages approximately 7,000 hectares of eucalyptus trees, planted in 1,000 hectare stages, in accordance with environmental legislation. Girassol is an associate of the bioenergy cooperative Cooperflora Brasil.

“Although our main focus is seeds, our participation in forestry mechanization increased our annual revenue in 2012 by around 5 percent,” Goellner admits.

Growing Numbers
Girassol’s annual revenue in 2012 was in excess of $100 million: 85 percent of this is generated by seed and grain (soy grain 34 percent, cotton 17 percent, soy seed 18 percent), 8 percent from eucalyptus and 7 percent from cattle farming.

All of the company’s products are handled by its administrative headquarters in Rondonópolis in Mato Grosso.

Four agricultural facilities, housing three seed production units and three cotton production units, receive almost 14,000 60-kilogram bags of seed a day and have the capacity to process 87,000 tons of cotton a year.

Girassol’s farms also store grain and seeds in modern silos and the largest (in Santo Antônio do Leverger) has an animal feed factory and reforestation facilities.

In total Girassol cultivates almost 24,000 hectares of soy for grain and seed, almost 4,800 hectares of cotton and 5,800 hectares of corn. Together with the 7,000-hectare eucalyptus plantation and 7,000 heads of cattle, the company occupies vast areas of the state.

“At present we produce 500,000 sacks of seed and can raise this to 800,000 without additional investment in our production units,” Goellner says. The increase is particularly directed at new states in Brazil such as Bahia, Maranhão, Piauí and Tocantins, where local agriculture is growing fast.

“The decentralized seed production units have closer links with specific areas, and understand individual regional requirements – we can use channels for soy and cotton to amplify existing markets,” he continues.

Girassol offers TMG – Tropical Melhoramento genetically treated seeds and also Monsoy (subsidiary of agricultural produce preservation pioneer Monsanto) developed techniques, which allow the company to select the best product for the best client or region.

Thinking of the Future
Girassol has created a strong name for its contribution to agribusiness development – surpassing expectations with its technology and services. “We apply modern germination techniques in a socially and environmentally efficient way,” Goellner adds.

Looking ahead, plans are underway to expand forestry mechanization practices by increasing the eucalyptus plantations using existing machinery.

“We are investing in biomass fuel production, especially in the south of the state (Mato Grosso), as a renewable energy source for local industry,” Goellner confirms. For those areas in the south of the state that are unsuitable for eucalyptus, Girassol plans to plant more soy and corn.

The structure of Girassol Reflorestadora is also sufficient to offer processing operations to other producers, producing standardized wood for the industry and facilitating transport costs.

Girassol is leading the way for other companies in the sector. The company not only focuses on environmental issues, but productivity, profitability and sustainability.

“We have made giant steps forward, our commitment to the environment affirms our mission to produce with excellence and responsibility,” concludes Goellner.

Girassol proves production, conservation and evolution can germinate together resulting in economic profit and environmental protection.