Members of the South Dakota Soybean Council recently returned from touring Brazil and Argentina.
They visited largest soybean farm in the world -- 555,000 acres just of soybeans.
Some things about the Bom Futuro (Good Fortune) Farm that impressed the group:
•It plants year round. Soybeans are the first crop, with corn and cotton as the main second crops. •The farm also raises 50,000 head of cattle and a good amount of eucalyptus trees.
•It owns about 50% of the land and leases the other 50%
•It has facilities to store about 7 million bushels of grain.
•Soybeans were yielding about 53 bushels per acre. The farm had been hoping for about 55-56 bushels per acre.
•While the warm, wet climate produces excellent growing conditions, it's also a haven for diseases and insects. Brazilian farmers spray soybeans about seven times each growing season. •They apply Roundup before planting and herbicides twice, insecticide three times and fungicide once during the growing season. At the end of the growing season, they also apply paraquat.
•It operates without crop insurance. This is typical for most large farms in Brazil. The government does offer some small insurance programs, but the programs would apply to smaller farmers, and wouldn't make sense for large farms. Bom Futuro has very stable production, with many locations spread throughout the state of Mato Grosso, which helps mitigate risks.
•It no-tills. With two growing seasons, there is never a field left unplatned. This is very important to reduce runoff and soil loss from their heavy rains. It's sustainability effort also includes maintaining almost 400,000 acres of woodland preserve. The farm is required to have about 35% of its land in preserve in the state of Mato Grosso. However, if the farm were in the Amazon, the preserve would have to be about 80%.
For more about what the South Dakota soybean farmers saw and learned in Brazil and Argentina, see www.sdsoybean.org/blog