Brazil: A Lesson on Infrastructure & Harvest

March 17, 2013

Bon Jia, as they would say here in Brazil. Our group had a fantastic day on our first farm tour in the Mato Grosso region, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience for many of us!

Our adventure started off early this morning with a 4-hour bus ride to the Girassol do Prata Farm. The first portion of the bus ride was on the new Highway 163. The amount of traffic on this road was unbelievable! You have never seen so many grain trucks back-to-back on a two-lane highway before. The locals find it hard to estimate the time to travel even short distances on the highway because of the traffic. Other than the highway, we spent a majority of our time traveling on dirt roads. Most of the dirt roads have numerous potholes, ruts and it feels as if you were continually driving over a washboard. Heavy rains will sometimes wash out sections of the road or make it very difficult to drive heavy equipment.

The roads often looked like this:

Dirt Road in Mato Grosso, Brazil

Once we arrived at the farm, we had the opportunity to witness soybean harvest. The Girassol do Prata Farm is a diversified farming operation with four separate farm locations throughout Brazil. The farm we visited is about 35,000 acres. Here are some key takeaways from the farm visit:

  • The Brazilians are able to easily double-crop due to the warm, rainy climate. Here, their primary crop is soybeans. For their second crop they will often plant corn or cotton. On the Girassol do Prata Farm, they raise sorghum and eucalyptus trees in addition to soybeans, corn and cotton. This particular farm has also integrated a pasture rotation for their 5,000 head of cattle.
  • The Girassol do Prata Farm primarily raises soybeans for their seed business. They plant Groups 7-9 in this area.

    In addition to raising cattle and crops, the farm also runs their own seed business.

  • The Mato Grosso region has been blessed with an excellent crop this year. The soybean field we visited is yielding about 55-57 bushels per acre.
  • Soybean harvest on the Girassol do Prata Farm in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

  • Stan Hanson (Garretson) & Monica McCranie (Claremont) examine soybeans on our farm tour in Brazil. In general, their soybeans were smaller, and had only about 2 beans per pod.

Stan Hanson rides along on the combine for soybean harvest.

  • Their average annual rainfall is around 65 inches! On Wednesday, the field we were in received about 1.5 inches of rain…. and they were still able to continue harvest today (Thursday.) They can do this because of the very hot weather and their soil type. They even received about another inch of rain while we were there.

    It's been awhile since we've seen rain...

... and the after affects of the rain.

  • They experience a lot of the same issues we do. From fertilizer to insects, we were able to relate to many of their problems and share experiences.

    The South Dakota Soybean Group with managers from the Girassol do Prata Farm.

We are very thankful for the hospitality of our farm hosts, and for the wonderful learning opportunities we have had so far. We also have a lot to look forward to, as we are visiting the largest soybean farm in the world tomorrow. (155,000 acres of just soybeans!)