Grasslands, rainforests, and soybeans: A trip to Brazil with Rob Stone

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Looking across the world, there is one thing that really unifies us — and it’s agriculture.

We can often learn about new methods and technologies by talking to our colleagues around the world.

Rob Stone, farmer out of Davidson, Saskatchewan, went down to São Paulo, Brazil to check out some of the technology different companies are working on.

Stone had never been to Brazil before, so he didn’t really have any expectations, short of rainforests and soybeans.

“It was that, but also lots and lots of cattle, lots of grassland, and undulating topography. If I had to explain, I’d basically call it Western Canada, except for without winter. You know, there’s obviously more beautiful trees, all that sort of stuff. But landscape varies. Farming varies from state to state. I mean, it’s just massive, we put a lot of miles on going from going from state to state,” he explains. (Story continues below video)

When he was down there Stone says there were all different sizes of farms, with a diverse rotation. One of the farms he visited — which is considered a large farm for the area — was around 100,000 hectares, which is approximately 247,000 acres.

What is really unique, however, is how integrated agriculture is into their local communities.

“They have their own towns, communities, ambulance, restaurants, those sort of thing that kind of take on a lot of the functions of a local municipality. They’re completely integrated with where they’re doing with their product. They’ve got the labour, mechanical, all of those things,” he explains. “Plus their shipping. They were just going through a process of figuring out owning their own trucks. I think they bought 300, and were looking at buying another 300 for shipping to the ports.”

In North America, when we think of infrastructure in Brazil, we often hear about the lack of great roads and things like that, despite it consistently improving. After a lot of driving and road time, there’s definitely a need for upgrades, says Stone.

“There’s no rail infrastructure. And it’s a long ways to the port,” he says. “There’s potholes, there’s certainly some not so good roads. If you take the toll roads when you’re travelling, it’s a lot better.”

After returning home, and having some time to reflect, Stone says one of his take-homes is how incredibly productive Brazil is, despite issues they have.

“They’ve got their environmental headwinds, particularly there as well with it being a kind of forested area, and all the things that are happening along with development. They’re just like any other parts of the world,” he says.

“The productivity, I think that the increasing productivity they can get from technology, and putting more emphasis on getting everything out of the acre, increasing their double crop in areas that they aren’t doing that, and managing their timelines a lot better.”

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