Three corn grower communications professionals are among hundreds of agricultural journalists from all over the world at the 2013 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) Congress in Argentina this week.
Mindy Williamson with Iowa Corn Growers, Marri Carrow with U.S. Grains Council, and National Corn Growers Association Communications Director Ken Colombini spent the day on Tuesday visiting a farm near Rosario to learn how about 80% of Argentinian growers have adopted no till in the last decade. We also stopped at a fertilizer facility to learn about demand and use of fertilizer in Argentina and how yields have doubled in the last 20 years. And we visited a terminal where we learned a lot about the importance of the soybean complex in this South American country which is a leader in soy product exports.
Corn is the second largest crop in Argentina behind soybeans, accounting for about 24% of production. Yields average about nine tons per hectare, which is about 144 bushels an acre, if my conversion skills are correct. Of course, it is just getting to the end of winter in Argentina, so no corn is growing here right now and it is a little chilly here! Much cooler than in the Midwest, for sure.
It was interesting to hear that Argentina is increasing use of corn for ethanol and biodiesel production. Since sugarcane is not as big a crop here as it is in Brazil, corn is their ethanol feedstock of choice.
Argentinian farmers are increasing their adoption of precision technology, but it has only been the last few years that it has become affordable enough, so they are mostly still in the early stages of using GPS and autosteer capabilities.
Internet access leaves much to be desired in the hotel where we are currently staying in Rosario. It was better in Buenos Aires but we have not been able to get audio or large photos uploaded from here since yesterday – but we will be adding more in the days to come, as well as interviews with the folks we are meeting in Argentina.