Optimizing mill revenue by improving harvest logistics and fertilizer management

Project Information
Name: CostCutting4SugarCane

About: CostCutting4Sugarcane was a project that aimed to optimize mill revenues for large commercial sugarcane mills in Colombia by improving harvest logistics and fertilizer management. The project offered in-season, field-specific yield forecasts and fertilizer advice, aiming to lower costs and increase productivity. It ended in May 2023 and plans to offer these services globally for the sugarcane business.

Duration: 2020 - May 2023

Keywords: CostCutting4Sugarcane, Yield forecast, Fertilizer management, Harvest logistics, Colombian sugarcane mills, eLEAF coordination, Cost reduction, Productivity increment, European Space Agency support, Netherlands Space Office authorization

Partners: eLEAF (Lead partner), European Space Agency, AgroAP, Cenicaña, Riopaila Castilla

Location: Colombia

High level service architecture for CostCutting4Sugarcane presenting data sourcing, processing and integration, service delivery and end-user components.

CostCutting4Sugarcane (project ended May 2023) targets large commercial sugarcane mills in Colombia to optimize mill revenues by improving harvest logistics and fertilizer management. Once the services are successfully introduced, CostCutting4Sugacane will be offered for the sugarcane business globally.

Our CostCutting4Sugarcane offers two services for sugarcane:

  • A yield forecast service to provide in-season field-specific yield estimates early in the growing season.
  • A fertilizer advice to provide insight into how many nutrients have been removed from the soil after harvest, and advise on the appropriate amount of fertilizer to be replenished at the start of the next season.

“We are glad to support eLEAF with their value realization in Colombia. We believe that their experience in the production of data for sugarcane combined with our knowledge of the crop is a good basis to position the services of CostCutting4Sugarcane as management option.” Carlos Mosquera – IA Esp GIS MBA Agricultura de Precisión, AgroAP CEO

The implementation of the services will lower the pressure of fertilizer use and logistics-related costs, resulting in a healthier cash flow at mill level.

The customer base can be divided into three main segments of end users: mill managers and operators, agricultural and field managers and precision agricultural specialists. The value propositions for this group of users can be summarized as:

  • Weekly, field-specific forecast of harvest dates and yield volumes as early as 4 months into the 12-month growing season via an intuitive interface that can be accessed online anywhere in the world.
  • Weekly accurate overview of the number of fertilizers required at mill level to replenish the soil of the harvestable fields.


A detailed business plan shows that the benefits of implementing the services result in cost reduction and productivity increment. The expected benefits of the services for field operations will be a reduction of about 20% of the current cost, and for harvest, operations are expected a reduction of about 15% of the costs. Additionally, we expect that after implementing the services, there will be a reduction of in-field heterogeneity, which will result in an increment of yield by 20%. The total benefit, together with cost savings and increment in productivity, is about 2,465 €/ha, which results in a benefit-cost ratio of 1,97 after including the cost for the CostCutting4Sugarcane service of 10 €/ha per year.

eLEAF is the lead partner in charge of coordinating the project team and interacting with different key project partners. The European Space Agency supports the project and has been authorized by the Netherlands Space Office.

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