Tailgate Talk: Brazilian Agriculture Up Close

March 10, 2012 10:23 AM
Tailgate Talk: Brazilian Agriculture Up Close

For five days in mid-February, Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie and Machinery Editor Margy Fischer joined soybean yield record holder Kip Cullers on a trip to Brazil. The trio canvassed 2,100 miles through five Brazilian states.

Starting in the state of São Paulo, they saw the beginning of sugarcane harvest and sugarcane planting. They also toured a sugarcane mill that produces sugar and ethanol.

Heading northwest, they moved into soybean and corn country, where harvest was well under way. In most fields, a planter followed on the heels of the combine for double-crop sorghum or corn.
The primary growing season coincides with the rainy season in Brazil, during which it rains every day. Even 2" of rain and soggy fields don’t stop the combines for long.

In the state of Goiás, farmers lined up seven combines in the field to span 240'. That’s one way to keep harvest moving ahead of the next rain.

Ferrie was impressed by the endurance and creativity of the Brazilian farmers—from the use of cover crops to fight nematode pressure to trucks outfitted with kitchens to endure the 30- to 40-hour waits at the elevator.

Read more and watch in-the-field video reports at www.agweb.com/blog/the_quest_for_better_beans.


Stat Rack

U.S. trade estimates for fiscal 2012:


  • $131 billion Export projection, $6.4 billion below fiscal 2011
  • $4.2 billion Reduction in oilseed and product exports, mostly due to strong early season shipments from South America
  • $3.9 billion Reduction in grain and feed exports, with wheat, corn, rice and feeds lower, due to competition especially from the Black Sea region
  • $2.7 billion Reduction in cotton exports, due to lower U.S. supplies and declining prices
  • $1.9 billion Increase in exports for livestock, poultry and dairy
  • $106.5 billion Import projection, a 13% increase from fiscal 2011
  • $24.5 billion Surplus trade balance, down from $43 billion in 2011, given that export forecasts are down while imports are increasing
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