Monday, May 7, 2018

Relaxing Sunday in Brazil

Today we learned how Sundays are spent in Brazil culture. Sundays in Brazil are very slow, they are meant to relax, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy each other’s company. This can be very different than the fast pace lifestyle we have in the United States.  The Hawkeye Community College study abroad group started the day off by taking a nice, relaxing stroll around a local park. Before we started our stroll we bought fresh coconut water to drink. It was a very different taste but I’m glad I tried it. While walking around the park we saw people having a snack on a blanket, playing fetch with their dogs, having conversation with friends, and we even saw a bunch of people taking maternity and baby pictures with the beautiful view of the lake in the background. We walked around the entire park and just took in the views on the lake with the large buildings in the background. It was very relaxing.

                After our walk we loaded up in the van and headed to our host, Juarez, house to visit with our new Brazilian friends. He lives in a beautiful gated community and his house is stunning. He had lunch all set up for us in his backyard by the pool. Sadly it was raining and a little chilly so we weren’t able to go swimming but we were able to sit outside on his patio all day. For lunch Juarez served us Feijoada which is a traditional black bean stew which originally was a staple for slaves in Brazil. After lunch we spent the rest of the day talking with our Brazilian friends as well as meeting and having conversations with new friends. It was such a nice, relaxing afternoon.

               At around 5p.m. the Hawkeye Community College study abroad group, Juarez, and a few of Juarez friends loaded up to head to a local soccer stadium to watch a soccer game. It was an intense soccer match between the number 1 and number 2 teams in the region. We became fans of Club Goias because this is Juarez’s team. It was a very exciting game with a lot of fans cheering for both sides. This was my first time ever going to a soccer game and it was very entertaining. I was unsure of what was going on but luckily Brad, our instructor and leader of GALC, is a soccer coach for his son’s team so he was able to fill us in on what exactly was going on. It was crazy to me how fast pace the game is and how hard the athletes have to work to score a goal. Unfortunately, Goias lost 1-0 to Athletico. Following the soccer game we headed to Madero’s home of the “world’s best burger” for supper. Everyone in our group ordered a burger to see if this was true and were still on the fence to whether or not it was the “world’s best”. Overall we had a great, relaxing Sunday in Brazil learning more of the Brazilian culture.

Organic Farming with the Brazilians

          While touring all over Brazil, the Hawkeye Community College study abroad group was able to see a vast variety of different crops in production. Our group was able to see corn and soybean fields, coffee trees, large greenhouses full of rice and beans, cotton productions, and much more. One of my favorite farms we visited, and in my mind the most beautiful, was the organic farm. Fazenda Organica Novas Senhora Aparecida was the name of the organic farm we visited. It is located in the country and is very remote. It is run by a farmer who has only a handful of workers and college interns. It’s also a learning facility where people can come visit and learn about organic farming.
We started off the tour by seeing the rehabilitation center he has on his farm for sick or injured animals. He has a few different species in rehabilitation and we were able to see the Hyacinth Macaws. The Hyacinth Macaws are a breed of parrots that are native to Brazil. He helps rehabilitate these sick or injured Macaws until they are healthy enough to be released back into the wild. The birds are so beautiful and very unique to see up close.

After seeing the Macaws we started the organic farm tour. This farmer had just about every plant you could imagine growing in his fields. He had corn, soybeans, sugar cane, peanuts, bananas, papayas, coffee, etc. We were able to tour all of the fields and hear him speak about how he cares for and harvest each group organically. The banana trees were my favorite to see because of how many he had and how absolutely beautiful they were. My second favorite was the sugar cane because of how big and green it was. He even let us try both the bananas and sugar cane. His whole farm was so green, luscious, and beautiful that it was almost breathtaking.

We ended the organic farming tour by visiting the farmer’s worm composting barn. In his barn he had several cement pens that were filled with compost. He then had several worms in each pen to help break down the compost. He then puts the compost back onto his field for a form of organic fertilizer once the worms have broken the food and compost down completely. This was very unique and different and the first time I have ever seen anything like that. It would be a great practice to implement for organic farmers back in the United States. Our time spent at the organic farm was full of great views, new insights, and a lot of learning.

Kick-Start to the Brazilian Adventures!

          Our first full day in Brazil was full of excitement, learning, touring, and food! The day started out by visiting the Ministry of Agriculture located in Brasilia. The Ministry of Agriculture in Brazil would be comparable to the Department of Agriculture here in the United States. While at the Ministry of Agriculture, the Hawkeye Community College group listened to a speaker present about what they do at the Ministry of Agriculture in Brasilia and how it benefits the Brazilian producers and consumers. His main topic points of discussion included corn and soybean production, cattle operations, coffee plants, and how important environmental conservation is in Brazil. All farmers in Brazil have to, by law, leave 20% of their farmland untouched for environmental conservation purposes. This helps in ensuring that farmers are being environmentally friendly and taking good care of their land and the environment. Farmers in Brazil also have to be very cautious when it comes to deforestation. If there happens to be a tree planted in the middle of the field in which they are planting, they must go around it. Farmers are not allowed to cut down the trees to make more room for farming practices. This is a great way to protect the environment for years to come. The Hawkeye Community College study abroad students then had plenty of time to ask the speaker questions and compare practices we do in the United States. We were particularly interested in the corn and soybean productions.

 After all of our questions were answered and our time was finished at the Ministry of Agriculture our group was off to eat lunch at a churrascaria. This is basically a large meat buffet. When you sit down at your table you are given a card with a red side and a green side. You set the card next to your plate and flip it to the green side when you want the waiters to bring you meat, when you are full and no longer want the waiters to bring you meat you flip your card to the red side. There was so many options of meat at this churrascaria that it was almost overwhelming. The waiters probably brought out around 10-12 different kinds of meat for us to try. They would then cut it off right in front of you to grab and put on your plate. They had a variety of beef, chicken, and lamb. Lunch was so delicious and all of us left feeling very full.

After a quick afternoon nap after being exhausted from traveling and then having a large meal, the Hawkeye Community College group was able to tour the University of Brasilia (UnB) college campus. The campus is all open air and very unique. At the college we joined in on an International Business class to listen to another speaker speak about Brazilian agriculture. It was very similar to the presentation we had heard at the Ministry of Brazil but still very informative to all of us. After the presentation we toured more of the college which is HUGE. Around 40,000 college students attend UnB and the campus goes on forever. Sadly it was raining so after our tour we were soaked but seeing a college campus in a different country and having the opportunity to tour it was so worth it. We ended our day with more food of course! For supper we at a pizza restaurant where they bring you several different kinds of pizza, almost buffet style. My personal favorite was the dessert pizza which had cheese, bananas, cinnamon, chocolate, and ice cream all loaded on to it. So delicious! Our first full day in Brazil was busy and full of learning and excitement and was a great way to start out the trip.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Cotton Production In Brazil

Cotton Production in Brazil

I come from a corn and soybean background, and so when we spent almost a whole day on cotton production farm, I was blown away. If you're interested in learning more about cotton production in Brazil, then continue on reading.

The farm that we toured is owned by two men from Japan, but Venice is their agronomists that gave us the tour. Cotton grows for 6 months. On top of cotton, they grow corn for a 2nd crop, soybeans and sorghum. They make cotton seed for Bayer there also. There newest variety is Fiber max GMT 983. The worst insect for cotton is caterpillars, and with new technology they have created GLT Glyphosate roundup ready. Another treatment that they use a lot in Brazil, and we also use it too, is called Liberty Link. The glyphosate roundup ready cotton seed is pretty pricey, it cost roughly $500-600 per bag for this new variety. Though one thing it has going for it is, is 1 bag will plant 2 Hectare acres, which is equivalent to 5 acres here. Another great thing about this new variety is the fact that they can cut down on spraying passes and cost, because of the resistance. So, overall the $600 bag is worth it in the long run. Other popular insects they have to deal with a lot is spider mites, stink bug and whiteflies. Whiteflies can take out the sugar in cotton in beginning stages and the plant will stop growing. Nymphs can turn plant into fungus and ruin crop completely. They make 6 to 8 spraying passes per crop. Typically they use 38 different chemicals when it comes to spraying.
In Brazil they are growing at least two crops per year, and some places are getting 3 crops in one field per year. At this farm they grow soybeans first, then plant cotton. A popular disease in cotton is called, Dumping Off. Its a soil disease caused by fungus. This disease can damage the entire field within 24 to 48 hours. Another popular disease is called, Humalatin, which causes the plant to only have 10 stems, and then it stops growing after that. Micronutrients are very important to cotton, they put on zinc, manganese and chloride with foliar application. They apply 2 applications of UREA. The fruit part of the cotton plant they call apples. The flower part goes through two different color stages, yellow means not ready for new flower and pink signals ready for new flower. Each flower has 10 seeds in each section, and typically 5 sections in each flower. Cost around $600-700 A.I.’s to produce 1 cotton hectare acre. They make the cotton in bales which weigh around 26,500 pounds.
Rocks aren't a problem in their area. They no till everything. Also learned that just like here, their most popular brands are Case IH, John Deere and New Holland. The soils in Brazil are red because they are low in OM and high in Iron.

I hope I was able to teach you a little bit about what cotton production is like in Brazil.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Apenas vivendo o sonho! (Just Living the Dream!)

Living The Dream

If you know me well enough, you know I have a bug for traveling and exploring the world. I love stepping out of my comfort zone and seeing new things, and thanks to Hawkeye Community College, I was able to live the dream down in Brazil!
We departed from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and I have to admit I didn't really know any of the other students that well, but by the end of the trip we were all best friends and probably knew more about each other than ourselves! From Cedar Rapids we flew to North Carolina, then Miami and then a long 9 1/2 hour trip to Brasilia, Brazil. On the flight to Brazil, I sat next to an older Brazilian couple, who knew English thankfully. When you fly into another country you have to fill out paperwork, and thanks to them they lend me a pen and sat and chatted with me for a little bit. I could tell right away that the Brazilians were wonderful, courteous people. Thankfully the long flight was a night flight, so I fell asleep during the entire flight after I talked with the nice couple. When we landed in Brasilia, it was around morning time, and we were already off to adventures that day. When you think of Brazil, you think its going to be super hot and unbearable, but honestly stepping off the plane It wasn't all that hot, it was dry and warm, but felt so nice after being stuck in cold Iowa.
For the first few days we traveled around the capital of Brazil, which is called Brasilia. Brasilia is one of the very few capitals that was "planned." It was founded in 1960, which also makes it one of the youngest capitals of a country in the world. In Brasilia, we ventured out and saw capital buildings, presidents house, cathedrals, malls, ministry of Ag, Universities, Code VASF, museum and ate at fantastic restaurants.
I love American food, but Brazil's food was amazing! They are known for their Brazilian steakhouses, and I can see why now. At one of the Brazilian steakhouses I tried some new food, which included lamb and the hump on cattle and it tasted great. One of my other favorite restaurants was, Pizza de Bessa. This pizza restaurant was alive with happy, ecstatic people, and the servers bring around dozens and dozens of different types of pizza's all night. Brazil is also known for all the fruit they grow, and the fresh fruit every day was the best. It was a wonderful experience, and I still to this day, miss the food!
We all boarded the van and loaded up and headed towards Goiania. Though on the way to Goiania, we stopped at Pirenopolis I feel in love with this smaller town! In Pirenopolis we went hiking in the country, which led us to beautiful waterfalls that we could swim in and jump off of. It was very beautiful and that memory will stick with me for the rest of my life. Also in Pirenopolis we ate and grabbed some homemade ice cream, along with toured the city's beautiful architecture.
In Goiania and Intumbiara we visited a Pioneer plant, organic farm, Embrapa (research crop and livestock farm), huge dairy farm, sugarcane fields, cotton fields and plants, agriculture farms, Universities, local food and clothing markets, and several agribusinesses. On top of learning about agriculture In Brazil, I also learned a lot about their culture. It was a great time listening to live music, dancing and talking with new Brazilian friends during the night life. One of the last days we were in Brazil, a great friend of ours, took us out on his boat in Intumbiara and we jammed out to music and did a little swimming. On top of that, we went to a hot water park. This water park is heated naturally, because it sits on top of a inactive volcano underground. This was a blast! When I went to Brazil, I was a little worried about not being able to communicate well with the Brazilians, but a lot of the Brazilians actually know some English language. I plan on going to Brazil again in the future, and I will defiantly have to learn more Portuguese.
I could go on and on about all the amazing things we learned and saw, but you would have to travel there to fully understand and know the experience I endured. I am forever grateful for all the friends and memories I made, along with the knowledge I brought back. I miss Brazil so much already, and hope that one day soon I can travel there again!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Brazilian Thrills

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to be 18-years-old and travel to another country, fly for the first time, and not know the language? Well, I can give you first-hand account on how this all happened to me.
To start off, an agriculture instructor from Hawkeye Community College talked to me about studying abroad in Brazil the first semester of my freshman year. I thought it would be an awesome experience; what a great way to travel and learn! Fast forward to a few short months later and I found myself landing in Brasilia, Brazil.
I was elated by the way everything looked; it was so different from the Iowa scenery. The buildings were all open with no doors; it felt so nice with a little bit of breeze and seventy degree weather. Right away we met people that were so welcoming and friendly.
The first few hours in Brazilia were spent in a mall, a perfect place for a broke, 18-year- old, college student. The mall consisted of shoe, shoe, and more shoe stores! Of course clothing, jewelry food courts, and small coffee shops could also be found.
After taking in a bit of the culture I stopped and rested for a little while, not realizing how hungry I was. This brought me to my first challenge: ordering a meal in another language was easier said than done!  
Over the next week I experienced so much: museums, churches, government buildings, grocery stores, departments of agriculture and the nightlife. We visited different types of farms and so much more.
What I felt was a whole world of other thrills. It’s so hard to justly describe an experience on paper because how I felt is so much more then words can describe.
Dining out was always a new adventure. One night we walked to a pizza restaurant. On our journey, we walked along the riverside where the culture was alive and thriving. I saw locals going for walks with their kids, groups of runners, and my favorite part, the soccer courts. Many soccer courts were filled with people on hillsides watching.
On our way back we stopped to watch a soccer game. I was thrilled when a younger boy signaled for us to come play! Since I have been playing soccer my whole life and currently for Hawkeye Community College, of course I deep down wanted to play, and here was my chance. My friends were a little hesitant, but the Brazilians were encouraging. The feeling was welcoming, and even though they were speaking another language, a wave, smile, and a soccer ball connected us.
Another connection was the music; so many people were laughing and singing as we went out with friends from Brazil who previously studied at Hawkeye Community College. I saw a live band, and even though I had no clue what the lyrics meant, the presence of people dancing, bouncing around, and enjoying life was inspirational.
Some days, learning and traveling wore me out. At the hotel, it was nice to relax at the top in the pool reviewing the day, cracking some jokes, and kicking our feet up. Another day we were in the hot fields with agronomists from Eres Agrob. They took us out on their boat on the along the same river we played soccer by. It was so fascinating to be on the river on such nice nights. Again, my words fall short of fully detailing my experience, but I hope my Brazilian thrills could give you a glimpse of what life is like in Brazil.            

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

LaticĂ­nios (Dairy Farming)

March 14th finally arrived! The Hawkeye Community College 2017 Brazil Study Abroad group had the opportunity to tour a dairy farm, Piracanjuba Pro-Campo. Visiting the dairy farm was exciting for me coming from a dairy background. The purpose of this dairy farm was to train new farmers on milking, feeding, breeding, and much more. Piracanjuba Pro-Campo had 480 cows, milking 200 of the cows twice a day. The diary managers taught their milking practices in a parlor, similar to what we have in the United States, but everything was open. The location of Brazil we were visiting does not have much dairy farming, but people are willing to learn and start their own farms.

The farm was awesome and I am so fortunate that we got to tour it; it felt like home away from home. Some noticeable differences included the way their milk trucks looked, year round heat, and technology. While there were some contrasts to the form of farming I am use to, the fresh smell of grass was still the sweet, summer smell of Iowa.

I got to share a lot of my stories from my dairy farm with the farm manager. Via live feed, the managers were able to view Holstein cows being milked by a robot. Also, I was able to show them the setup of my dairy barn and other cattle buildings through pictures. The farm workers were very impressed by the modern technology used in Iowa. Showing them my pictures struck up conversations and lots of questions about each other's ways of dairy farming.
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