Kaio Fiorese

Soil - The Vibrant, Natural Partner for Successful Farming

Soil is a complex ecosystem of life. It´s made up of various components like minerals, air, water, and organic matter. Billions of organisms live in the soil, including bacteria, fungi, nematodes and earthworms. This vibrant ecosystem is one of the most critical components of growing plants with valuable nutrients.

For the Fiorese family, owners of the Brazilian farm Nossa Senhora Aparecida, sustainable agriculture practices are key to maintaining soil health. The farm is part of the Bayer ForwardFarming initiative, a knowledge platform and network of independent farms around the globe that show how modern agriculture improves yield and quality of crops, while at the same time promoting environmental and social responsibility. ForwardFarmer Kaio Fiorese, who graduated from Universidade de Brasília with a degree in agronomy, gives his insight on the family’s view of soil health.

Soil - the farmer´s natural partner

Farming is about managing land in a sustainable way and caring for soil health. Farmers like me consider soil an urgent matter. Healthy soil is one of our key components to growing high quality crops. It is therefore essential that we observe, analyze and manage our soil well. This way, the ecosystem, soil fertility and value can be maintained.

Kaio Fiorese, Nossa Senhora Aparecida Farm, Brazil
Kaio Fiorese, Nossa Senhora Aparecida Farm, Brazil
Kaio Fiorese,
Nossa Senhora Aparecida Farm, Brazil

I have learned that soil has both inherent and dynamic qualities that make it function. Inherent qualities include the soil type – such as the amount of sand or clay – which are the soil’s fixed qualities. In contrast, soil’s dynamic qualities are those that can be changed – for the better or the worse. These include the soil’s organic matter, its structure and depth, and its water and nutrient holding capacity. All of these dynamic soil qualities must be managed well, and are the foundation for good farming.

As my brother and I have gradually taken over the farming activities at our farm, Nossa Senhora Aparecida, we’ve made a family decision to gain even more expertise in managing soil health. With our Bayer ForwardFarming partnership, and the advisors and soil consultants who support us, we are strengthening our soil preservation strategy. Originally, the soils here in the Cerrados region were of rather low fertility, but farmers have been able to achieve productivity through liming and the use of fertilizer. For many years now, we have also been using a no-till technique. This technique has helped to reduce and eliminate soil preparation tasks and has given us more flexibility and efficiency in farm management. It has helped to increase organic matter, improve water infiltration and water holding capacity. Now, the water is available to the plants we are growing, and soil compaction and erosion is reduced.

I would like to think we are part of a new generation of farmers in Brazil, using new methods and changing how farming works.

While mono-cropping is still common in our region, we decided to foster multi-cropping. We rotate and harvest soy, corn, beans, wheat and sorghum as part of our soil health approach. We also have the fields covered with cover crops such as oats when we do not use them in the second growing season for corn or wheat. Oats cover the soil quickly and help to improve the soil structure. I would like to think we are part of a new generation of farmers in Brazil, using new methods and changing how farming works.

Soil health management, the no-till method, and multi-cropping are exciting practices, but they are also complex. This is why it’s important to have support; to work with experts who can give us practical advice and up-to-date research information and who know how important soil management is for farming. At the same time, we must have patience to see how the soil grows stronger with each harvest.

Something we’ve become very sensitive to is that every square centimeter of our land may have variation in inherent soil characteristics, level of organic matter – and this can affect moisture and nutrient availability. Precision and digital farming helps us identify these differences very precisely and allows us to make corrections for instance of soil acidity annually and apply fertilizer taking into account soil properties and plant needs. Since we are in a plateau region, we have hilly terrain on our property. These hilly areas require greater effort in cultivation and care with our machines.

In other words, we work with – rather than against – the landscape. Along our roads in the hillier terrain we have also built water catchment pools to reduce the amount of water that flows down roads, preventing erosion of the soil and contamination and silting of our reservoir which is used for irrigation and serves as an important habitat for wildlife.

A range of approaches – and a vision

We’re motivated to continue making the farm succeed in economic and environmental matters through a variety of strategies. Every harvest for me is very memorable. I am side-by-side with the harvester operator, seeing and reaping the crops that were planted and cared for with affection and dedication. I feel gratified to see the results of our efforts at the end of a cycle. And I’m also proud of my nation. I believe that Brazilian agriculture is on the right path – a path that starts by taking care of the soil right under our feet.

Learn more about Bayer ForwardFarming.

I’m proud of my nation. I believe that Brazilian agriculture is on the right path – a path that starts by taking care of the soil right under our feet.

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Thriving for Change - Championing Agriculture for a New Generation