A Fresh Perspective on Farming in Argentina
Q: How did you become interested in farming?
A: We come from three generations of people who have cared for the land – and we are now arriving at the fourth with our children. My father, who is now 80 years old, has worked hard to evolve the farm over the years. He took care of this farm his entire life, and when Bayer invited us to join the ForwardFarming network, we considered it very attractive, because it aimed to tend to the crops and the environment. We already believed in this approach, so when we were invited, we were already in the process of securing certifications under a national best practice standard.
Q: Do you see the next generation sharing your passion for farming, for the land?
A: Farming is in our blood, so much so that we want it to reach our children. I have an 8-year-old son, and I think he understands the messages I have tried to convey to him. I have nephews who are 11, 18 and 20 years old. The older ones are involved in the work we do a little more, but the kids enjoy farming, too. I believe they like it! An interesting thing that we have already noticed is that the next generation is very concerned about the environment – "you have to respect it," they say. They're passionate about caring for the farm in a sustainable manner. If they carry on our lifestyle on the farm, they will clearly be focused on taking even better care of the environment.
Q: So what does the future of agriculture look like in your region?
A: Agriculture is advancing more and more in Argentina. We are now practicing precision planting in which there are variations at a distance of 10 meters by 10 meters, for example. When we first started this type of planting in 2009, nobody considered it that important. My brother Marcelo and I, on the other hand, were interested and started putting it into practice. I think agriculture as a whole is going in this same direction, but we are early pioneers who already practice these techniques on 100% of our production area.
Q: Are there specific examples of farming practices and techniques that peers want to learn more about?
A: We have noted that soil nutrition and crop rotation techniques are getting a lot more emphasis. However, this is also very recent, in Argentina. A few years ago, we could not consider these options because we would not have help from anywhere. Now companies have started focusing on these changes and this care, providing support.
Q: So what are the barriers to that adoption or challenges to the future of agriculture in your region?
A: We are among those who recognize how technology is an opportunity, and how important it is to use it. But we must break a few barriers down first. It is necessary to generate more awareness from top to bottom, and to achieve this, it is important to draw a line that everyone must follow and somehow reward those who do follow. This is how you drive change.
We believe that all farmers are interested in new ideas, sustainable actions, but they are waiting for an incentive that services as a recognition of their work and efforts to do things well. For example, when there is an incentive for those who operate responsibly – those who care for the soil, certify their work, produce more sustainably – they see that there is recognition for this effort. There will then be more teaching, and others will try to do the same and continue on this path.
Taking care of the water, of the soil, keeping the environment and social issues in mind, I believe is the biggest challenge facing the entire sector.
Q: And the opportunities of sustainable farming?
A: The clearest opportunity we see is to improve through technology. We have been involved in farming for 80 years, and this year was the first time we reached approximately 10 metric tons of corn per hectare. In other words, this reflects the new techniques that increase the productivity of the field. Seed technology, for example, is excellent.
But it's more than maintaining yields – it's about adding value to the field, to grow more responsibly. It does not make much sense to only think about material issues if you forget the environment. Entering the European markets, investing more in sustainable products and certificates that meet these standards, this is the path we are on, but it is not easy.
Another particular challenge is to present a clear image that we do agriculture responsibly, that we do things well. Taking care of natural resources is the main challenge we need to be attentive to. Taking care of the water, of the soil, keeping the environment and social issues in mind, I believe is the biggest challenge facing the entire sector.