Once the CSC in Brazilia was over we had another few days to see more of Brazil and the agricultural enterprises at work. To finish off the trip to Brazil a smaller group of 14 of us headed west to the state of Mato Grosso for 5 days, this state had developed over the last 40-50 years from unproductive, low fertile land to one of the most productive regions for producing food in the world. With the main crops for the state being soyabean, maize, cotton and beef, it was interesting to see the vast scale and potential to increase production further in the region, and how this could potentially affect the world markets for these commodities.
During our time in Mato Grosso we visited farms, farmer’s co-operatives, seed researchers and grain traders. Below are a few details of a few of the farms we visited.
Celio Aguiar, Sant Juliana
We were shown around this unit by Celio’s brother Olavo, the family had moved north to Mato Grosso in 1972 from the state of Minas Gerais.
- 25,000 ha
- 30,000 hd of cattle
- Zebu cattle
- Buying store cattle and finishing
- Av 330 kg carcass weight
- 90% of the beef sold through JBS
- Growing 1500ha of soyabean (sold off farm)
- Growing 2500ha of grain maize (feed to the stock)
Cattle were finished off pasture with supplemental feed and also finished in a feedlot during the dry season. Daily liveweight gain achieved through the seasons were variable but averages sowed –
- Feedlot- 1.7kg
- Pasture + Supplementation- 1.2kg
- Pasture 0.5 kg
- 260,000 ha
- 500,000 ha cropped/year (double cropping)
- 100,000 ha cotton
- 105,000 ha corn
- 264,000 ha Soyabean
- 2,000 ha Rice
- Grass in the rotation to feed to beef during the dry season
- 250ha site
- Producing 250t of fish/month
- 120,000 hd/cattle
- Purchasing stores and finishing
- 70,000 hd/cattle marketed every year
- Nelori and Angus Cattle
The inefficiency of beef production in Brazil was clear with the average being a stocking rate of 1/ha, and poor DLWG from pasture meaning animals were older when slaughtering, with the potential to increase productivity of the land through better management techniques. To grow more grass there was huge potential to increase stocking rates to 5-7/ha. From all the people we spoke to the desire was to intensify the beef production, keeping numbers relatively the same but using the extra land for crop production.
Summary from Brazil
It was evident to see that Brazil is going to be an even bigger player on the world market for commodities such as soyabean, maize and beef. Brazilian beef will be a huge challenge against UK beef in the future, however underlying the quality of our product will be paramount especially after the JBS meat scandal that we saw when we were out there. In terms of soya and maize, we would welcome the increased productivity to add to the world market to reduce ruminant feed costs, but how much of this extra production is going to be swallowed up by China? First of all Brazil would need to sort out their transport issues to be competitive enough on the world market.
In terms of my own project, I can see that the production of soya in the world will increase, but so will its demand. Even though there will be soyabean meal available to feed as a protein source in the UK market, with price volatility still remaining high we need to look at alternative sources of protein and reduce the amount of protein we feed to reduce the risk when prices increase. It’s been a great start to my travel and its definitely provoked more questions than given me answers!!
Just as I’m catching up with work again, the next trip isn’t too far away. On the 9th May I set off on a Global Focus Programme with 8 other people from around the world for 6 weeks. The visits include Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Germany, UK, Washington and California. I look forward to updating you on my travels!!
Senior Dairy Specialist
Follow Iwan on Twitter @maesmochnant for live updates of his travels.