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Corn+Soybean Digest

High-Speed Internet is Hitting Brazil’s Rural Farms

The beginning of our rainy season in Brazil started 20-30 days earlier than normal for the 2009-2010 crop year. The rains have helped everyone get a jump on planting and spraying. Currently, we are at least two weeks ahead of schedule with our spring planting; we started soybeans around Nov. 5 and cotton around Nov. 20.

We ideally would plant our crop in moisture after the initial rains in order to allow the seed to germinate and emerge. If you plant too soon after a rain, the soil will be sticky, but it will be OK as long as it rains more on top of that so the ground stays moist. If you plant in sticky conditions and it turns hot and dry, the high sand/silt-based soil will crust over and mimic cement. This quickly creates a mess.

THE OTHER OPTION is to plant shallow enough so seeds are in dry dirt and they don't get enough moisture to germinate until it rains. The problem with this approach is that the seed is lying in 85° F dry soil for an extended period of time. So it comes down to splitting the uprights and doing a little of both in an effort to plan the crop and work with what Mother Nature provides.

While focusing on planting, I have a couple of neighbors here who always ask me how the crops are doing in the U.S. They've stayed abreast with the wet fall the U.S. has experienced, inquiring if it's going to hurt overall yields or if the wet corn will cause the final USDA numbers to drop. These farmers have been exposed to a new world of information exchange they didn't have a few years ago.

It's really amazing how, over the past few years, technology has assisted farmers and producers in developing regions. Most farms now have high-speed Internet, allowing people to keep up with the latest. Seven years ago when I arrived in Bahia, I don't recall ever seeing a farm with a computer, much less one with Internet access.

THIS TECHNOLOGY IS allowing better information exchange on how to scout for bugs, online webinars for marketing, weather seminars about crop problems in other regions, etc.

The ability to sit in on meetings held in the U.S. or in Europe via computer is still amazing to me, but it's life-changing for folks in remote areas within Brazil, Ukraine, etc., who have been behind the technology 8-ball for such a long time.

When many of us in the ag business always talk about new technology, we're usually referring to multiple-stack seed, corn traits or the new RR2 beans. But we don't ever really think about things like, “Boy, sure would be nice to get electricity someday.”

Our farm is getting an electricity post dug in on our main road leading to several farms around us. It will be much nicer to have electric juice instead of a generator.

It seems as though leveraging technology and tapping into modern modes of information and communication streams is the newly identified path that developing countries are starting to follow.

As I reflect back on my last seven years, the increasing speed with which this is happening is amazing. Ultimately, the technology we have today makes the 6,000-mile difference between Iowa and Brazil a mere mouse click away.

Next in a series from Iowa farmer Tyler Bruch, Global Ag Investments, whose firm farms about 32,000 acres in Brazil and 40,000 acres in Ukraine.

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