Venado Tuerto and Rosario, Argentina

Wednesday – January 31

Our tour guide in Argentina was Jorge Caxenave, son of the under secretary of agriculture. He frequently used a cell phone on the bus anyplace we were in the Pampas. A person can drive all day and the topography is the same everywhere - miles and miles of mostly flat prairie. Most of the equipment was Class, New Holland, John Deere and Argentina companies. We saw lots of Dekalb and Roundup Ready signs.

Non-farm Commercial Stop #1

This stop was at the headquarters of a major farmer cooperative at the edge of Venado Tuerto. This is one of the major cooperatives in Argentina. They have 60 grain elevators and 20,000 farmer members. The average member farms 60 to 70 hectares (148 to 173 acres). They said their total storage is 1.5 million tons (55 million bushels of soybeans). Last year they stored 2 million hectares (nearly 5 million acres) of grain production in all their elevators. They also process soybeans, make livestock feed, and operate in the export market, and 30% of the members are farming 10% of the land. Bigger corporations and groups farm ninety percent of the land.

They have 26 centers and each center has a board of nine directors. Each board reports to the central board of twelve directors. The directors elect a president for the co-op. There is one delegate per 100 members. I am sending you material on this cooperative. Each dot represents a location of an elevator.

Took pictures of Roundup and other chemicals in their warehouse. They said they have only been fertilizing soybeans for about three years. In this area they said they were using 40 to 50 kilograms per hectare (35 to 44 pounds per acre) of nitrogen and 70 to 80 kilograms per hectare (62 to 71pounds per acre) of phosphorus. Sulfur is needed as well as other micronutrients such as manganese. No potash is applied.

Typical corn fertilization is 150 kilograms per hectare of nitrogen (134 pounds) and 80 to 100 kilograms of phosphorus per hectare (71 to 89 pounds). pH is a little low on most area farms. Cash price at this co-op is $2.96 per liter for Roundup ($11.20 per gallon). Roundup not paid for until March (harvest time) is $3.06 per liter ($11.58 per gallon). This cooperative is a big supplier of credit for these small farmers. This allows the member farmers to avoid borrowing through banks.

Seed corn cost is $64 to $68 per 20 kilograms (44 pounds) bag containing 80,000 seeds.

Not much lime is used yet in this area. We saw various trucks on the road. We were told they were hauling wheat or soybeans from last year’s harvest.

We left the cooperative for our continued trip to Rosario. Perhaps 10 miles from Rosario we drove onto what would be a 4-lane Interstate by-pass. I saw one train moving across the countryside with numerous grain cars.

Rosario in on the Parana River and is about 120 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. The river can handle ocean-going ships with a draft up to about 32 feet. I took a couple of pictures of one large terminal with ships in the background. As we left Rosario the next morning for Buenos Aires, I counted at least 3 or 4 soybean processing facilities along the river. We did not stop at any of the facilities because we had two scheduled for visit in Brazil.

We checked into our hotel in downtown Rosario, which is a big city with over a million population. As you drive into the city, you see all standards of housing from some of the worst slums to very nice homes. The shopping street located 2 blocks from our hotel was very modern. If it weren’t for the Spanish signs, you would have thought you were on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Apparently the office workers were going home about the time my wife and I walked through the area. I saw dozens and dozens of beautiful women of Italian lineage, apparently going home from work. And this was one of the few times I did not have my camera with me!

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This online exclusive is being re-published with permission from Soybean Digest . Some minor revisions have been made by BEEF magazine editors.

For 2002 Travel Plans to South America see: www.kitt-travel.com.