Finally made it to a farm on my trip to Brazil with the Illinois Soybean Association
And boy, did the farm live up to its billing.
We boarded the bus in Cuiaba at 7 a.m. and headed northeast. The land outside of town was a surprise. I was expecting soybeans fields to start right on the edge of the city – Cuiaba, after all, is the center of Brazil’s agriculture engine. But the land was covered in trees and shrubs – the savannah, our Brazilian guide called it.
After about an hour, we crossed a river and the highway climbed a ridge of red rock. After passing “Hells Gate,” a narrow passage in the rock we reached the top. A few miles later we rounded curve and topped a rise in the road and suddenly there it was – a field of green soybeans stretching to the horizon.
At the first farm, we pulled into a yard that was as neat and clean as a resort. Planters, sprayers and trucks were parked under a large open canopy. Three men were raking up palm fronds next to a garden filled with raised vegetable beds and grape trellises. A couple people were working a shop at the far end of the canopy. Another was picking mangoes from the trees bordering large red graveled farmyard.
The farm manager met us and led us to the soybean field. The waist-high soybeans looked picture perfect – not a weed insight, all the way to where the field met a thick stand of trees in the distance. One soybean variety – a group 7 or 8 maturity determinate plant – was heavy with 4-bean pods.
The Brazilian and Illini farmers stood together at the edge of the field, admired the view and talked soybeans for two hours.
I couldn't help but think that farms -- whereever they are in the world, and no matter how large or small -- are great things.
The work it took to see this one had been worth it.