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February 2012 Archive for Quest for Better Yields

RSS By: Kip Cullers, Farm Journal

Follow Kip Cullers, a Purdy, Mo., farmer known for his bin-busting soybean yields, Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie and Farm Journal Machinery Editor Margy Fischer as they travel to Brazil to learn more about the country's soybean production.

Kip Cullers Reports on Brazilian Crop

Feb 28, 2012

On a recent trip from Sao Paulo up through Mato Grosso, Kip Cullers saw crops at every stage from harvest to planting corn, sorghum and cotton as a double crop.

Learn more in this audio report:

Ken Ferrie Says Necessity Breeds Brazilian Creativity

Feb 27, 2012

During the rainy season in Brazil, the main growing season, it will rain every day. Even with 2" of rain, harvesting may take a short break, but then it will be full force again.

Ken Ferrie says some of the things he’s seen during his trip through the country impressed him with the Brazilian farmer’s endurance and creativity. This includes cover crops to fight nematode pressures and trucks outfitted with kitchens to outlast the 30- to 40-hour waits at the elevator.

Learn more in this audio report:


240' of Soybeans Harvested with Seven Machines

Feb 27, 2012
Maraney Farms has a goal to harvest 750 acres/day, and with seven combines stretching to a 240’ cutting swath, that goal is well within their reach. The farm’s eighth machine is in the shop having its auger header converted to a draper head. This will be the second conversion the farm has done.


Soybean Harvest in Brazil

Feb 24, 2012

Near Capadao do Ceu, in the state of Gaois, seven machines owned by the Maraney Farms total 240’ of a cutting swath.  It’s their goal to harvest 750 acres/day. Today, they farm more than 13,000 acres. In the area of the field where they’ve already harvested, you can see planters running planting corn.

Kip Cullers’ Micronutrient Product for Brazil

Feb 23, 2012

Missouri farmer Kip Cullers is known for his record-setting soybean yields and contest-winning corn yields in the U.S. What may not be as well known is his research in Brazil to bump those yields higher.

"Honestly, I like to make things grow," he says.
web KT soybeansIn response to touring the country and learning about Brazilian farmers’ challenges, Cullers has launched his KT line of foliar feed products.
The growing season in Brazil is divided into the wet season and the dry season. Not only is water a limiting factor for production but, more surprisingly, so is sunlight. Many days are cloud-covered, with restricted sunlight.
"My theory is to increase the photosynthesis in the plant," Cullers explains. "The KT product can help web KT Cottonstimulate root growth and CO2 production."
Applied three times in the season and piggybacked with another application, Cullers' micronutrient formulations are for corn, soybeans, cotton and sugar cane.
"In Brazil, every farmer is applying a foliar feed of some kind or another already," he says. "But my product isn’t designed to just stimulate growth—it is designed to increase the plant’s photosynthesis. My one product can replace what would usually take seven jugs of different products."
Production of the KT product is located in Brazil, and Cullers doesn’t plan to offer it in the U.S.
"Right now, we are focused on testing in Brazil because that is where the product is designed to work best," he says. "I think that if we can prove a 60% success rate in our trials, then we’ve got a successful product."



Brazilian Sugar Cane Harvest

Feb 23, 2012


Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie and Missouri farmer Kip Cullers give their insights into Brazilian sugar cane production from a field where they are in the process of planting sugar cane.
The Brazilian farmers are harvesting the "seed cane" in an adjacent area. Around 20% of every acre of the seed cane field is used to plant an acre for new production. One sugar cane is planted and harvested for six years before replanted into sugar cane or another crop. The seed cane is cut into 8" to 10’ pieces, and every node can produce a stalk. It is spread into a knee-deep furrow with a fertilizer applied when the trench is dug. Then a machine comes through and covers the plant segments and applies an insecticide (to control termites) and a fungicide.
Ken and Kip have more:


Ken Ferrie’s first impressions of Brazil Agriculture

Feb 22, 2012

Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie shares his initial thoughts on his current trip through Brazil. Landing in Sao Paulo on Monday, the group has traveled northwest through three states.

So far, they have seen sugar cane harvest, planting and a sugar cane mill ramping up for harvest; soybean harvest; corn planting; and a farm getting ready to double crop sorghum behind soybeans.


Inside a Brazilian Sugar Cane Farm and Mill

Feb 21, 2012

It takes 75,000 acres to 100,000 acres to feed the Usina Ipiragna sugar mill in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

web Brazil Ipiragna

This is one of three sugar mills owned by the same family, which is currently building its fourth mill. Unlike the other three mills that produce raw sugar as well as ethanol, the new mill will produce sugar cane ethanol solely.

We visited the site to see the farm’s crews getting ready for harvest, which will start in the next two months, including disassembling all harvesters and tractors, such as this Valtra.
web Brazil Valtra
At this mill, the company produces 50% sugar and 50% ethanol from its crop, or sometimes the balance becomes 60/40 in either product’s direction.
web LuizAccording to Luiz Cunali Defillippi Filho, technical manager for the group, harvest will last and the mill will run for 200 to 250 days. His family started in this business in 1952, and today they harvest 170,000 acres of sugar cane with a fleet of 35 self-propelled sugar cane harvesters. When a new machine is bought, it is outfitted with GPS steering, and today 10 of the company’s machines have GPS. The crew is expected to run day and night.
At the facility we toured, when the mill is running, 8,800 U.S. tons are used daily to produce raw sugar and 80,000 gal. of sugar cane ethanol. In total, the company’s three current facilities use 22,000 U.S. tons of harvested sugar cane every day.
The average distance from field to mill is 14 miles.
The process of milling sugar is self-sustaining once it starts up. The biomass unused in the processed sugar feeds the broilers, which create steam to turn turbines to generate electricity to power the entire facility. The cake byproduct from the sugar processing is rich in sulfur and is reapplied to the fields.
web Brazil johnDeereSugarHarvesters
The processed sugar is stored in 110-lb. totes and transported for refining or the export market.
web Brazil loadingSugar
Sugar cane is planted once and harvested for six crops until replanted into sugar cane or another crop rotation.
web Brazil sugarcane
There are 25 million acres of sugar cane in production in Brazil, and 20 million of those acres are located in the state of Sao Paulo. The Brazilian government has mandated that production increase to twice the area of production and twice the production per acre by 2020. This is to fulfill the demand for sugar cane ethanol in Brazilian flex-fuel cars as well as rising global sugar demand.
Sugar cane is also grown on steep hillsides that have to be hand-harvested.

Farm Journal Tags Along to Brazil

Feb 21, 2012

In late February, Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie and Farm Journal Machinery Editor Margy Fischer will accompany Kip Cullers on one of his trips to Brazil. Cullers goes to Brazil more than a dozen times during the winter to check up on various field trials he's running in cooperation with farmers.

The three will report on their travels to this blog.

Listen below as Cullers describes the itinerary for the week and what have been some of his greatest takeaways from experiencing Brazilian agriculture.


There Are No Left-hand Turns in Brazil

Feb 20, 2012

Until sometime early this morning, I had never been south of the equator. We landed in Sao Paulo around 7:45, and shortly after our landing gear made contact with the ground below, the humidity fogged the plane’s windows. Sao Paulo is a city of 11 million, but within a couple of hours we had seen sugar cane, cows, horses, coffee, peanuts, corn and orange orchards.

I am traveling this week with Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie and Missouri farmer Kip Cullers. No, we are not here for Carnival. As Ken says, we are here to try to absorb as much as we can.
So far, I can offer some reflections upon our first day, but I’d rather share my initial humorous stories.
There are no left turns in Brazil. So if you need to change direction, what would just be a simple left turn in the U.S. is replaced by either a series of roundabouts or pulling over to the right onto the shoulder of the road and then basically doing a U-turn until it becomes your left turn.
I was offered rotisserie chicken hearts at lunch. I much preferred the pineapple generously seasoned with cinnamon.
It’s a mystery to me what the standard electrical plug-in looks like in Brazil and what current they run. I brought both of my travel converters, and only one works in the hotel I’m staying in. I plugged it in, then pressed my computer plug into the holes. The lights went out. I immediately thought I blew a breaker because this was along the wall when entering my hotel room:
web Brazil CircuitBreaker 
However, to my relief, it was just the design of the light switch. The simple lever switch got switched off when I pressed my computer cord in:
 web Brazil Poweroutlet
More to come as we travel across five states of Brazil. Today, we spent most of our time learning about sugar cane, the milling process and Brazil's ethanol industry. In the days to come, we’ll travel to more corn and soybean country.

Kip Cullers' Lessons Learned in Brazil

Feb 15, 2012

Kip Cullers is well-known for his world-record soybean yields, and many farmers ask him for yield tips. His response is usually a question in return: "What have you tried different in your soybeans lately." Cullers is a constant experimenter and pushing the bean yield threshold by pushing the conventional thinking to soybean production.

One of his greatest tools in his quest for higher yields is the travel he does in the winter. He journeys across Brazil more than a dozen times when he isn't growing his own crop in Missouri. He partners with farmers and cooperatives to run field trials to push yields in corn, soybeans and sugar cane. You can listen to some of his greatest lessons learned during these travels below:



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