Brazil Part 2 – Soybean and Corn Innovation

P1090798The second leg of our travel in Brazil took us to Brasilia, the capital city.  We met up with Milton Suzuki, Bayer Field Trial Manager, who organized our itinerary and guided us through rural Brazil.  We are accompanied by Sally Thomson, an Australian who has spent significant time in Brazil and Pablo Manfrim, a Brazilian farmer.  It is great to be travelling with people so knowledgeable about Brazilian agriculture to interpret both language and what we  see.  I am grateful they are taking their time to help us experience the real Brazil.

Brazil is a very large country and we are spending significant time in the bus.  We left Brasilia first thing March 28th and travelled to Wehrmann Farms in Christalina County, in the Goias State.  They grow corn, soybeans, potatoes, carrots, onions, P1090803and are the largest garlic producer in Brazil.  They also run their own potato, garlic, corn and soybean breeding programs.  It was amazing to learn that they grow vegetables year round and can plant and harvest almost any day of the year.  The climate in this part of Brazil provides flexibility for farmers, especially when they have irrigation in the dry season (May-September).  I saw soybeans at the 3rd trifoliate, pod set, and ready for harvest all on the same farm.  Soybean rust is a major problem in this area, with farmers averaging 2.5 fungicide applications per crop – this would seriously change the economics of the crop if we had that amount of rust pressure in Ontario.  As a result of soybean rust, the government has disallowed soybean production from May to August, as an attempt to break the disease cycle.

P1090861On March 29th, we visited a very impressive crop farm.  Adalberto Piassa farms about 15,000 acres of corn and soybeans in a 100% no till system. To help maintain soil structure and control diseases, he plants a grass cover crop that grows under the corn crop.  I was amazed at the lushness of this grass under the corn.  Adalberto explained that he keeps the corn clean for the first 30 days after planting and then lets the grass grow.  He figures he doesn’t lose any corn yield and adds 10% to his soybean yield the following year.  He called it the ‘Santa Fe’ system. P1090871

Grain drying is quite cost effective as their main source of fuel is eucalyptus wood.  These extremely fast growing trees are planted and harvested for wood production on the farm and it runs their grain dryer and heats air going into their bin aeration systems.  Judging by their crop coming out of the field, I expect they would only need to dry corn and soybeans by a couple percent.

These eucalyptus trees are 5 years old!  Harvest is underway.  Is this the ultimate biofuel crop?


Wood based grain drying system


CaseIH and John Deere combines working side by side. Soybeans were running 62 bu/ac in this 1200 acre field.


Red coloured soil – naturally low in Phosphorous and Potassium. Gypsum and lime applied to correct pH and P & K fertilizer applied to provide crop nutrients.


A view from the farm yard


Grass crop growing under canopy of corn.



One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Luc in Kincardine on March 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Farming in Ontario is going to seem SO pedestrian and boring after this amazing experience, Cros.


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