A New Generation of Farmers Embraces Sustainable Farming Technology in BrazilNossa Senhora Aparecida, near Brasilia, Brazil. Influenced by the experience of growing up on a farm, time living abroad and a passion for new technologies, their unique perspectives have been further shaped by their university studies – Henrique graduated from Centro Universitário de Brasília with a degree in law and Kaio graduated from Universidade de Brasília with a degree in agronomy. Now, they’ve returned to their family farm and are sharing their vision for a sustainable future of farming as part of the ForwardFarming network.
Q: How did you choose your professions: Agronomy (Kaio) and Law (Henrique)?
Henrique: I always liked history, reading, and law, and with the support of my father I ended up heading into the right subject. And even though I’ve become more involved in the activities on our farm, I still have a direct connection with the law profession. I am always helping to solve something at the association we are members of; or dealing with some type of contract.
Kaio: I always enjoyed observing and taking part in the activities on the farm. So, when it came time to choose a profession, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to be an agronomist.
Q: What are some of the daily challenges at your farm, in particular, and in Brazil?
Kaio: In recent years, I have been noticing a major obstacle: the climate. You cannot control it, and, unfortunately, we are still somewhat hostage to that issue. Although our region typically has good rainfall, environmental changes like lack of rainfall pose a major challenge to farmers. That’s why we are expanding our efforts to be more resilient and sustainable: we’re replanting native plants on our land, and we’re using digital tools like sophisticated weather stations to monitor rain and conserve water, as well as to prevent waste. We’ve even discovered new specimens around our bee hotel, which is a tangible sign of how these efforts are enhancing the growth of biodiversity.
Henrique: Resistance to new technologies is another issue, especially among the older farmers [at Nossa Senhora Aparecida] who are more accustomed to the traditional way of farming. These are paradigms that we are working to overcome with time because sometimes they impact the progress of the work.
Q: What is your opinion about the role played by new technologies, such as digital farming, and precision agriculture?
Henrique: Agriculture is no longer as it used to be 20 years ago. In the past, you would plant, watch the weather, and hope it would all work out. Everything is faster now. The world is growing, and every year has demanded more productivity. To achieve this productivity, we need technology. It is a key piece, and anyone who is not keeping pace with these changes will end up having to drop out of the market.
Kaio: Technology is certainly a path of no return. It is a reality. All technologies come together as allies and are here to help farmers more and more, whether in making decisions about the climate, in planting accuracy, in collecting data for more accurate harvesting, not to mention the application technologies. Our productivity is increasing, but it is not for a single reason, but rather because of a process of constant improvement.
Seeing our hard work reach people’s tables is the most amazing part.
Q: How does technology help farmers face the current challenges?
Kaio: I believe technology helps us have more control over farming. It helps you understand what is going better, and to make the right decisions based on that. With real time information, I can access data on my mobile phone very easily and continuously monitor risks related to certain factors, like the weather or a pest. Our planting and harvesting are also mechanized; we use GPS fertilization and we monitor rainfall with the Weather Station that is installed in the area.
Henrique: Above all, we are seeking to understand the technologies well, because there are a thousand solutions available these days. We are always exchanging ideas and trying to stay informed to find out which technologies to implement on the farm and the best ways to apply them.
Q: Why should young people of your generation be interested in agriculture?
Henrique: People cannot live without agriculture. Society needs to value farming because it feeds the world. And there is also a very big spectrum of possibilities for those who want to work within agriculture. Take my case, for example. I work in law and found a line of business in agriculture. It is very gratifying to see the opportunities that can come from agriculture.
Kaio: The work we do is very challenging and, at the same time, very motivating. Seeing our hard work reach people’s tables is the most amazing part. It is very rewarding to see that our practices will be reflected in the consumer’s life, particularly because this is work that demands a lot of responsibility on our part. With each decision, we are experiencing and influencing major change in the way agriculture is done.
To find out more about Bayer’s ForwardFarming partners at Nossa Senhora Aparecida farm in Brazil, or at any of our other ForwardFarms around the world, click here.