Sunday, 1 April 2012

March 29 - Broadacre cropping

After a 3 hour delay swapping our bus for one with an operating air conditioner (40 degrees outside), we began what was going to be a very long driving day. Only one stop - a large dry land broad acre cropping farm. This company- owned farm grows soya bean and corn (about 4600 ha). They are no-till croppers and do not irrigate, just rely on average rainfall which is about 1500 mm/ year. We were all very impressed with the organic matter and mulch in the soil. They were also growing living mulch (grass species) in amongst corn and soya bean to retain soil structure and minimize fungal disease issues. The soil had more life and water holding capacity than cultivation systems we have looked at. Corn yields of 12 t/ha and soya bean 3.7 t/ha. This farm also grows a Eucalypt tree woodlot for wood chipping and burning to produce heat to dry grain for storage.

Now back on the bus to continue driving - a lot of it through heavy tropical rain. The Brazilian country side is magnificent, being towards the end of the wet season, everything is still green and lush. Tall trees of all descriptions, many of which I have never seen before. Also lots of cultivated tree crop types including Rubber trees, Eucalypt, coffee, plus tropical fruit trees. Lots of cleared paddocks where mostly Brahman cattle graze. The terrain is very undulating which brings me to the roads. The roads here are really shitfull!!! Never seems to be any flat stretches. We are either always driving up single lane rises or down hills, seldom any overtaking lanes. Some of my previous blogs quoting the massive yields from a massive land base may paint a picture of just how many trucks and heavy transport are on the road. The decision making process on when to overtake is an absolute mystery to me. Each days travel seems to end in an exchange between scholars on their white knuckle moments. In defence of the Roads Authority we did drive past many road construction works where improvements are underway.
After about 10 hours drive time we safely arrived at our hotel in Uberaba...

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