In Brazil we had the amazing experience of visiting the Bom Futuro farm in the Mato Grosso region. The Bom Futuro farm was founded in 1982, and has already grown to be the largest soybean farm in the world, with 555,000 acres of just soybeans! This does not even include what they grow for other crops or their pasture land. They also grow 170,000 acres of cotton and 260,000 acres corn all around Mato Grosso state, considering the first and the second crops.
Here’s a run down of some interesting farm facts:
- The farm primarily plants soybeans as their first crop, with corn and cotton as their main second crops. In addition to the traditional crops, they also raise 50,000 head of cattle and a good amount of eucalyptus trees.
- The Bom Futuro farm owns about 50% of the land they farm, and leases the other 50%. At maximum capacity, they have facilities to store about 7 million bushels of grain.
- Soybean harvest for the first crop at Bom Futuro is currently about 80% complete. Harvest was already completed in the area we visited, so we were unable to see harvest on their farm. However, they said their soybean yield was averaging about 53 bushels per acre. They had been hoping for about 55-56 bushels per acre.
- While the warm, wet climate lends to excellent growing conditions, it’s also a haven for disease and insect pressures. In Brazil, the average farm will spray soybeans about 7 times per growing season! They apply roundup before planting, two herbicide applications, 3 insecticide & fungicide applications, as well as paraquat at the end of the growing season.
- The Bom Futuro farm operates with zero crop insurance. This is typical for most large farms in Brazil. The government does offer some small insurance programs, but the programs would apply to smaller farmers, and wouldn’t make sense for large farms. The Bom Futuro farm has very stable production, with many locations spread throughout Mato Grosso so this helps mitigate their risks.
- In Portugese, “Bom Futuro” means “good future,” and they are doing their best to ensure it. Sustainability was a focus we heard about on their farm. The farm has implemented no-till, and with two growing seasons there is never a field left unplanted. This is very important to reduce runoff and soil loss from their heavy rains. Their sustainability focus also includes maintaining almost 400,000 acres of woodland preserve. The farm is legally required to have about 35% of their land in preserve in the Mato Grosso region. However, if you were in the Amazon, this percentage would be much higher around 80%.