Sunday, December 5, 2010

All aboard RyanAir

Today saw the culmination of a trip I have been planning for over eight months -to Jim McCarthy's farm. We are not being lucky enough just to see one farm however! Last niht before Jim flew he rung us to say, guys hire a car -so we did, well we tried when we turned up it transpired my hiring on a Spanish website hadn't gone so well, hey ho it was OK. We have by now met up with Julian Hughes an Irish scholar and his partner Val, so we packed the four of us and all of our luggage into a Peugot 207 -at least we had air con this time!

(above - rice in the newly contoured fields)

We got to Jims office in Buenos Aires and sitting on the step had to be an Aussie - shades on, tanned and brown R. M. Wiliams. - Murray, and he was to join us with Jim. 5 minutes later a very pastey looking gentleman approaches who Julian immediately greets - Thomas an irish Nuffield, also joining the tour, and last but by no means least a taxi arrives and out jumps the ever charismatic irishman, Mr Jim McCarthy.

Quick change of clothes for Jim, tour of his office for us and on the road to farm number one. We will be visiting 3 in 3 days, several hundred miles apart. The farm is 3000ha and immaculate. Growing soyabeans, maize, wheat and now rice in rotation the farm has recently been contoured (gently graded with the natural slopes) to allow water management primarily for the rice but also the soyabeans. The maize is mostly centre point irrigated. No livestock which is unusual for Argentina. They are generally achieving three crops every two years with warmth, sunshine and adequate water this place appears to be 'the' perfect farm. Jim has an excellent manager - Hogey who's job it is to organise the running of the farm. They own only two tractors -all operations are carried out by specialist contractors. A central database allows information to move between Buenos aires, the investors and the farms.

The soil was fantastic. About 1.5m of topsoil, a little phosphate deficient with about 3% OM. Everything (Julian and I check out the rooting)
was direct drilled to combat wind and water erosion
(when it rains it really lets rip) and in fairness we didn't see and signs of compaction except for the occasional headland. GM maize and soyabean in the rotation is obviously a help for now but we will see how it affects them in the future. -This is a very much more sustainable use of GM than I saw in the states.

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