Combines gather for the last week of the soybean harvest on Fazenda Piratini, a 25k hectare farm on largely non-irrigated land. It’s owned by SLC Agricola. They are the largest soybean grower in Brazil, with over 600k hectares of mega-farms planted in soybeans, corn, and cotton. Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, most of it grown on large-scale farms like this.
This year it will produce 45k tons of soybeans harvested from 11k ha, which is an average season for them on fertilized, non-irrigated land planted with GMO soybeans. SLC sells most of its grain (and buys most of its inputs like fertilizer, and pesticides) before planting. This farm is dedicated to growing soybean seeds, and the non-seed quality parts of the harvest are exported as grain. They have weather stations in the fields to correlate that with yield per sq/m and compare with fertilizer, seed timing, planting method, etc. to measure and improve productivity. They practice no-till farming, and every 3-4 years they plant a cover crop “capim brachiaria” to help the soil recover. SLC bought this farm in 2008 when it was virgin land, a “cerrado” grassland plateau with sandy soil at about 900m. They have drilled 26 wells to hit the water table at 260m and will begin irrigating in the coming years to get a second crop.
- ©2022 George Steinmetz
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