Saturday, September 24, 2011

at the Nuffield Conference giving a presentation to Nuffield partners on bloging
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Thursday, September 16, 2010


The main reason for staying in Rosario is to visit Bertini no till seeders. I've been wanting to go zero till with discs for years but I haven't been able to find one that I think will do the job at home. A friend put me onto this place and senior Bertini showed me around and explained the whole system. One of the biggest innovations is the plates holding down the stubble so the discs cut it and not hair pin the stubble. The other is the parallelogram placing the weight over the centre of the disc forcing it down while cultivating a seed bed with the front coulter at depth while place the seed with great accuracy. If you've made it this far reading this you will understand what I'm saying. I love the system but the only thing I don't like are the seed boxes on the top, but again it's all part of the system because you need the weight to keep the disc in the ground. I want one, lets hope we have a good year.
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Rosario and other stuff

Rosario is one of Argentina's oldest cities. The National flag came from here and many of the locals still believe it should have remained the capital. Argentina is very different to other countries in south America, in that it's incredibly nationalistic with flags every were even more so that the US. They have only one political party, the Peron party, which is like in Australia having only the Liberals to vote for and then having factions inside that party forming government.

Agriculture is one of the only industries making money here so the government put 35% tax on wheat to cross subsidise other industries, thus very little wheat was grown this year which was one of the driver's in the surge of the wheat price. Crazy place!! Oh and in case your thinking of driving, their all mad, they drive like lunatics. You go to love this place, it's never dull.
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Mendoza Red

I have to confess, I'm a bit of a fan of the red stuff. So when the opportunity came to visit one of Argentina's largest and most prestigious wineries came up, I was there. Bodegas Lopez produces 50 million litres of wine every year with 95% consumed locally. They use traditional Spanish wine making techniques, aging in oak for up to 6 years their reds and producing dry "easy drinking"wines. The signature wine for the region is Malbec, a dry red grown at altitude. It contributes 60% of the red wine produced and it's very good.
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Getting high in the mountains

Traveling from Uruguay to Argentina I couldn't pass the opportunity to visit the Andes. So i traveled to Mendoza for a two day break to indulge in two of my favorite things, mountains ( I you'd to teach outdoor education before farming) and wine (mostly school kids!).

The Andes where spectacular to say the least, we traveled to 3,100m ,above sea level on the road to Chile stopping at the boarder before the tunnel through the mountain. This pass has been used since the late 1800 and in 1910 the first narrow gauge railway was put in which only stopped in the 70's when Argentina and Chile built the existing road and trucks took over the transport. Looking at the rail line, I'd take the road any day.

The Andes have always been a place of recreation and there are ski resorts and thermal springs along the road, which are closed this season because there was no snow. Normally there would be 1m of snow on the mountains but due to the La Nina weather patten it's been very dry, all of the rain has been in the east coast of Australia instead.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Show day

Uruguay's National agricultural show is like any other in the world, except maybe Iowa's state fair. The sheep and cattle are prepped to show, machinery's out for display, there's the show ring and of coarse there's plenty of food.

This is my last stop in Uruguay and I just want to thank Roberto (standing with me by the Argentinian BBQ) for all the help in putting the trip together and all the others that have made this part of the trip so memorable. It's the second time I've been here and I don't think it will be the last, the people are great and always go out of there way to make you feel welcome and most speak English, which is great when if like me your hopeless at Spanish.

Adios Uruguay, Muchas Gracias.
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Ignacio Abella took me to the Sul research farm about two hour out from Montevideo. SUL is the Secretariado Uruguayo De La Lana, in other words, Uruguay's wool Board. Ignacio studied in Australia at Amidale UNE and knows many of the people I'm involved with in the sheep CRC. We had a great day looking around the farm as Ignacio explained the pasture and systems and showed me some of the differences between our two systems. One being the bales of wool. Many years ago, Australia started trialing plastic bales instead of nylon or jute ones, well it caught on in Uruguay and but not Australia and they now baned them with wire. Another difference is in Australia if your going into a wet paddock you take a 4x4 and not a small front wheel drive car! Cheers Ignacio, thanks for the great day.
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Miguel's farm

I traveled not far out of Montevideo to Miguel Jimenez De Arechaga's (second from the left) farm. He had 165 ha's under irrigation with half in crop to corn and soy and the other half to Oats, rye grass and lucerne for grazing his 1600 ewes. The rotation was 3 years of pasture then 3 years crop. This is the first time in my travels of 4 months that I have seen a mixed farming enterprise where they rotate crop and livestock. You may also notice that the sheep still have there tails. Uruguay doesn't have the Lucy fly, so they don't get breach strike, thus they haven't needed to mules their sheep.

One of the other things we discussed was the affect the Australian wool politics has on Uruguay. While Australia leads the world in wool it's actions also affect other nations and their sheep flocks. The more I travel the world and talk with other farmers, the more I realize that we all share the same problems and we all need to work closer together.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010


I stayed in this very typical town over night. It's on the river Negro and it must be beautiful l in the summer. It's a very rural town in the centre of the largest aricultural area of Uruguay.
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Montevideo to Mercedes

I spent all of today traveling though the centre of Uruguay directly north of Montevideo to Durazno and then across to Mercedes. This area is traditionally grazing but is being pushed into by large companies looking for more ground to crop. Seen as poorer soils to those on the western half of Uruguay farmer in this area have never tried growing crops. So some large companies from Argentina are coming in and share cropping and purchasing land. The country is much like what we farm in Australia and the crops grow well.

The hole in the system seem to be the amount of Soy beans grown. It's 70% of the crop every year and thus not a lot of rotation between crops and soy leaves very little ground cover and the soils are prone to wash away even under no till. The Uruguayan government has now stepped in and asking for agronomic plans prior to planting and in time may insist on three years of pasture and only two crops on the more fragile soils.
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