Today we awoke in the farming community of Lucas do Rio Verde, population of approximately 50,000. A hard rain fell over part of the night. Speaking with Ricardo, our farmer guide, Mato Grosso receives almost 100 inches of rain annually with almost all of that falling from September to early March. Luciane Bertinatto Copetti, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Environment for the Lucas do Rio Verde municipality, presented us an overview of the environmental registration requirements that farmers in Mato Grosso must undergo. The municipality has been using satellite imagery to monitor and enforce environmental registration and compliance. The Secretary also described the agricultural integration that is occurring in Lucas do Rio Verde. The community, in addition to being a base for grower services, includes a pork packing facility, a chicken packing facility, two soybean crushing facilities, and a bio-diesel facility, among others. These facilities were estimated to have added value to over 1.6 million ton of soybeans.
Following the first meeting, we visited the Fialgril bio-diesel plant. The plant receives its soybean oil via a pipeline from a neighboring Amaggi crushing facility and produces approximately 47 million gallons of bio-diesel annually. The plant appeared to be modern, well built, and well run. In the quality control building, a lab person discussed a bit of what could be used in lieu of soybean oil. Possible candidates include Jatropha, rapeseed, and animal fats. Both Jatropha and rapeseed were indicated to have oil contents of approximately 40%.
Next, our group visited the Fundacao Rio Verde, a leading research facility in Mato Grosso state. Currently, and among other projects, Rio Verde is focused on identifying and introducing new crops techniques into area farming practices. In essence, the foundation is trying to address the question “What crops can we mix together to increase productivity?” The research facility is researching adding another crop to the current soy/corn rotation. Specifically, soybeans are planted in September and when harvested in February are followed with a corn and legume grass planting. The corn is harvested in June or July with the remaining grass then serving as pasture land until soybeans are again planted in September. Employing this technique produces yields, on average, of 45 to 50 bu/ac for soybeans and 150 bu/ac for corn.
Returning to town, our group enjoyed various grilled cuts of meat for lunch at a local churrascaria. Before departing for our return trip to Cuiba, we had the opportunity to sit down with Paulo Sergio Franz at the offices of Mano Julio. Paulo, a Brazilian of German descent originally from southern Brazil, who moved to Mato Grosso to join his brother in raising cattle, hogs, and chickens. Even though Mato Grosso is extremely warm and humid, Paulo and his brother have been able to adapt an 8,800 sow farrow to finishing operation to the conditions. One key, according to Franz, for the tremendous feed to weight gain ratio and in turn profitability is the temperate climate that promotes livestock and crop growth. Contributing to the company’s profitability in recent years has been the company earning approximately $12 to $13 per ton of European Union carbon credits directly as a result of its management practices.
The evening ended back in Cuiaba with a dinner at a restaurant specializing in fish from the rivers and Pantanal region of Mato Grosso.