Brazil Study Tour Blog

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November 21, 2008

Water Conservation

Water in Brazil
By Jeff Coulter, Gary Wyatt, Suzanne Driessen

Brazil contains more than 14% of the world’s freshwater supply. As our tour bus drove over small streams and large rivers, most of the water was reddish-brown; this is the same color of the soil. Soil and stream bank erosion were noticeable in some areas. However, crop farmers are utilizing soil conservation practices such as terraces and no-till to control erosion. Unlike the United States, the Brazilian national government does not provide producers financial incentives for adopting these practices. Many terraces were developed in the 1970’s due to soil erosion problems on the hilly terrain. In addition to protection against soil erosion, no-till has been adopted by most Brazilian producers for conservation of soil moisture under annually warm soil temperatures.

Bottled water is available and used by almost everyone in Brazil for drinking, even though the local water in the southern part of Brazil is considered safe. Public water is chlorinated and is not a preference among the local residents for drinking. Other parts of Brazil may have unhealthy water situations that warrant bottled water.

Environmental law established in 1982 in Brazil mandates that landowners allow 20% of their land to return to native vegetation. Landowners usually select the areas that cannot be tilled or grazed. On the last day we learned that there is a controversy about whether the 20% can include required buffer strips (grass or trees) along rivers and streams. Large rivers must have 100 to 500 meters of buffer and small streams 30 meters of buffer vegetation on both sides of these waterways. This buffer distance may vary by state and some states are offering financial assistance. In addition, it is unlawful for cattle to enter these buffer areas and the associated rivers or streams. Overall, landowners and producers in Brazil are being proactive in adopting conservation practices to preserve the water and soil resources in the region and to develop a sustainable agricultural system which protects profitability and the environment.

November 16, 2008

Diverse People and Land by Nathan Winter

Over the past 5 days we have had the great opportunity to travel around the country of Brazil. Fortunately, we will have a few more days to learn. We have seen a lot, but we have only seen a portion of this country and their people. One thing for sure is that we have seen a country that is very diverse in their people and their land.

The people of this country have a lot of similarities of those in the US. Both countries have a native population. We have seen many immigrants over the last 200 plus years in the United States. Brazil also had many people settle within their borders as well. Many of these groups were also from Europe and Asia and they still hold true to their past. You can find these groups living together in similar areas. You can look around and see people that look very similar to people in Minnesota, but they do not have a Minnesota accent. We have found the people we have worked with to be very friendly, which would be very similar to Minnesota. The people of Brazil also know a lot more about us then we know about them. They watch television shows from our country like CNN and are concerned about our trade policies. How many of us really know a lot about our own country, let alone others.

The other great diversity of their country is the land. We know of the huge flat cropland in the Matto Grosso region of the country. All you can see is fields for miles and miles. We are not even traveling to that region, but we have seen areas around Sao Paulo and Londrina that have rolling hills with a large variety of crops like sugarcane, soybeans, corn, cassava, castor bean, wheat, coffee, oranges, rubber trees, etc. They also have huge terraced and rolling pastures where their livestock graze. This area contains a lot of the potential cropland area of their country. What a vast country and a great opportunity to learn more about one of the large agricultural export countries.

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