Riding the tractor-pulled shuttle across the 2.6 million square feet of show ground was a handful of farmers from Thatcher, Ariz., including cotton, wheat, and alfalfa grower Dennis Palmer of VIP Farms.

“I am looking for innovations that might make our operation more efficient and productive and make more money - that’s the bottom line,” Palmer said. “We try to take the cream of the crop and apply some of the new ideas into our farming systems.”

High on Palmer’s must-see list were new tractors and GPS technology. GPS is already a mainstay on Palmer’s 3,000 acre farm.

“GPS has helped increase our production and efficiency. The rows sure are pretty when they are straight,” Palmer grinned.

Palmer planned to visit drip irrigation-related exhibits and seminars.

About 1,200 international visitors from 64 countries attended Expo including farmer Durval Dourado Neto from Piracicaba, Brazil. He raises livestock and grows corn, urucum (fruit pigment), and common bean on about 1,500 acres.

Neto is also a general agriculture professor at the University of SãoPablo (USP). He led 28 USP agriculture students across the Expo grounds as part of a 16-day California agriculture tour. Other stops included Paramount Citrus, University of California-Davis, USDA in Parlier, and the Sequoia National Park.

During his Expo rounds, Neto was particularly interested in harvesting equipment and plant products.

“I am looking for plant products to apply to plant leaves to minimize high temperature and water stress.”

The major farm products grown in Brazil include livestock (mostly dairy), soybeans, corn, sugarcane (for sugar and ethanol), eucalyptus trees (energy, paper and furniture), and common bean. Brazil ranks second in the world behind the United States in global soybean production. Neto says rust is the top disease problem in Brazilian soybeans. Without herbicides about 70 percent of the crop would be lost.

Brazil has about 675 million acres of farm land; about 1 percent is irrigated. Environmental regulations are heavily impacting farms. A minimum of 20 percent of each farm’s acreage is set aside into preservation-type areas. About 75 percent of each farm’s acreage in the Amazonian rain forest is placed in preserves.

“The biggest challenge for Brazilian farmers is trying to make a profit while farm product prices decrease,” Neto explained. “Farmers are trying to increase productivity to produce more with less profit.” 

cblake@farmpress.com