Don't miss any of the Brazil Farm Tour 2015 stories! Start on day 1.
Our bus trip through Parana in southern Brazil late this week shows that farmers here are very good at what they do.
Soybean fields stretch for miles on both sides of road. Nearly all of them have plants that are deep green in color and uniform in height, two indicators that they are thriving.
While dry conditions at planting hurt some fields, those fields were in the minority. The majority were dark green and healthy. In addition, it rained several days during the week, which brought a smile to our guide Daniel Rosenthal, who farms in Parana.
The few farmers that members of our Farm Futures Brazil Farm Tour met this week were passionate about what they do.
Jan Haajses who farms near Tibagi, told us how he is constantly looking for ways to improve production while being as efficient as possible, such as injecting hog fertilizer into the soil to prevent runoff and improve absorption.
Soybeans on the Pedra Branca farm, also near Tibagi, look healthy with dark green leaves, but harmful worms are attacking the crop and if not controlled could hurt yields. Agronomist Jorge do Rogio Ferreira uses two hands to swipe a piece of canvas through the plants to collect and show us the pests.
Ivo Arnt Filho near Londrini in northern Parana explains how he grows non-GMO soybeans for export to Indonesia, Japan and Saudi Arabia. He deals directly with buyers in those countries and markets the corn and beans in canvas bags per their instructions.
"They are being aggressive in finding new markets," Robert Wiebe, a Manitoba, Canada, farmer and a member of the Farm Tour, said after a day visiting Brazil farms. " I am very impressed with their crops. I don't think they have been suffering too much."
More Brazil Farm Tour 2015
Day 1: Flight to Rio
Day 2: Ag-rich Parana state awaits
Day 3: Family dairy farm aims for big leagues
Day 4: Two innovative farms find success in Brazil
Day 5: Many crops, few roads
Not all the news is good. Transporting crops from farms to ports is expensive, roads are crowded, ports are congested, and the government is slow to grant licenses needed to expand businesses.
About 60% of Brazil's soybeans are shipped by truck, versus lower cost railroads and barges. That has put Brazil's farm-to-port shipping costs at about $90 per metric ton, more than triple that of Argentina and Europe says Robson Mafioletti, an engineering agronomist at the Sistema Ocepar Coop in Curitiba.
But that has not dampened the optimism. "In 2021, Brazil will be the biggest food supplier in the world," Mafioletti said.
See photos of the Brazil Farm tour day 5 >>
Agronomist Jorge do Rogio Ferreira shows members of the Farm Futures Brazil Farm Tour worms that were in one of his soybean fields. Ferreira is researching treatment methods to kill the worms before they hurt yields.
This privately run ferry moves grain-laden semi-trucks across the Tibagi River. The trucks come from a Parana farm and after crossing the river they must travel a few miles on a dirt and gravely road before reaching a paved highway.
Our tour bus had to ride the ferry going to and from the soybean farm. The dirt road and ferry provide the only access to the farm.
Officials at Embrapa Soybean seed company provide a list of the difficulties that face Brazilian agriculture.
Embrapa also explains why Brazil’s agriculture production will grow.
The outlook for Brazilian agriculture, showed during a tour stop at Embrapa Soybean.
Dennis Blumhoefer (left) and Dave Karl, both of Minnesota, inspect corn on Friday at farm field day in Londrina, Parana.