"Farmer Swap" Stories

Published on: 14:58PM Mar 02, 2010
Palle Pedersen

We recently had the opportunity to send the winner of our 2009 Farmer Swap program to Brazil for a week. Dwight Fickbohm of Akron, Iowa, and my colleague Paul Luetjen visited the Brazilian states of Bahia and Mato Grosso to get a first-hand look at soybean production there.
One farm they visited was taken over by six brothers in 1980, and in the 30 years since then, they have increased average soybean yield from 24 to 54 bushels per acre on very sandy soil. Another is run by a group of U.S. growers. And on the last day, Dwight got to help combine – in 90+ degree heat in January. That’s not typical in Iowa.
They learned quite a bit about the similarities and differences in soybean production. In that part of Brazil, it’s common to harvest soybeans and plant corn on the same day. A Brazilian agronomist listed common pests, including caterpillar, whitefly and soybean anteater. That last one is quite a bit different than the disease and aphid pressures we deal with in the United States! But solutions to challenges are similar. For example, in comparative studies on one farm, using a seed treatment increased soybean yields roughly 29%.

Overall, they said it was a fascinating trip. Have you had the opportunity to see how crops are produced in other parts of the world?