We traveled more than 10 miles down a dirt road with soybeans and sugarcane on either side of us and saw emu, foxes, hawks and roadrunners. Then we arrived at our destination, Fazenda Sant’Anna do Lajeado.
This farming business spans more than 60,000 acres, with 43,000 acres of soybeans. The farm employs 45 workers year-round, with more seasonal labor at planting and harvest.
At the central compound, we saw a series of open-air machine sheds and workers washing a sprayer after it had been used in the field.
Planters, tractors and fertilizer spreaders are under roof in the sheds, but the tillage, corn heads and some other equipment are stored uncovered.
It’s soybean harvest time for this farm, and that means it’s also planting time. Another building houses the farm’s seed and chemicals.
The sorghum that will be planted for double crop is treated on the farm with insecticide, and then the seed is rebagged.
Most fertilizer is applied at planting. Outside, there is a series of stacked totes of dry fertilizer that are covered with tarps to protect them from the rain. It will rain here almost every day during the rainy season.
Our visit with farm manager Leonardo Naves Titoto took us into the first corn field of our trip. This one field was 2,500 acres. Corn is planted in 20" rows.
Twenty acres had already been harvested for silage, and combines will be in the corn starting in the middle of March. Our yield estimate was 180 bu. per acre.
Then we traveled to a 1,000-acre field with eight combines running in soybeans. Most of the combines used on this farm are contracted labor for a percentage of the yield, and in the next field we saw the six Massey Ferguson combines they own.
As of the third week of February, this farm was one-third of the way done with harvest.
At both of these fields, grain carts were used to facilitate harvest, and then either the grain cart or the combine was unloaded into a truck with two trailers totaling up to 45 tons.
The soybean yields ranged from 40 bu. to 60 bu. All soybeans are defoliated before harvest.
The farm experienced abnormal weather the first two weeks of February, with higher temperatures and more rain than average.