Agriculture’s advance in Brazil is directly linked to scientific and technological research in the sector. The Agronomic Institute of Campinas was created in 1887, and the country’s first master’s thesis defended in 1961 at what is now the Federal University of Viçosa, was in the field of agronomic engineering, on the effects of irrigation and calcium on the incidence of apical rot—a disease of physiological origin that affects tomatoes. Today, the use of calcium is common practice for this crop.
Agriculture has evolved thanks to essential contributions from researchers on various fronts, such as disease prevention, cultivar development, and soil treatment, and it is undergoing an era of digitalization. The ability to collect, transmit, and analyze accurate data in real time increases productivity and could help make the industry more sustainable.
There are still several obstacles to be overcome in order for Brazilian agribusiness to become more sustainable and productive with the help of agriculture 4.0 technologies. There are two in particular that stand out: low connectivity in rural areas, and the education level and qualifications of those working there. Despite a huge increase in the results of the IBGE Agricultural Census from 2006 to 2017, the most recent data show that just over a quarter of rural properties (27%) have access to the internet. With respect to education, almost a quarter of rural workers (23%) do not know how to read or write, which makes it difficult, for example, to correctly determine the dose of a pesticide or to use an electronic system. Agriculture 4.0 and the challenges it faces in Brazil are the theme of this issue’s cover articles (page 12).
With this special set of reports spanning 18 pages, our first issue of 2020 addresses the digitalization of the sector from a number of geographical, temporal, and thematic perspectives. The 60-year history of the treaty that defines occupation and scientific research limits in the Antarctic is summarized in the Retrospect section (page 86), and an article on scientific tourism suggests destinations ranging from the geological parks of China and Araripe to the Archipelagos of Patagonia (page 72). Heavy rainfall in the North and Northeast of what is now Brazil during the last glaciation period between 70,000 and 10,000 years ago is the subject of a study described on page 52. Moving back to the present day, Nature Index published a list in October of the 175 best young universities in the world, with two Brazilian institutions featured: UNESP and UFABC were placed 60th and 69th respectively (page 36).
As for the variation of themes that has always characterized Pesquisa FAPESP, this issue includes an important discussion on medical error—the scale of the problem and how it is being faced by the institutions involved (page 58); the terrible history of concentration camps created in Ceará to hold drought victims in the early twentieth century (page 82); and inventive videos created by high school students to raise awareness of problems in their communities (page 43). I would like to wish all of our readers a happy new year, full of science and journalism.Republish