28 March 2010

CREA - The Group Meeting II

The group CREA General Baldissera had their meeting this past week. The president of the group, Santiago Nobile, invited me to attend the meeting. Santiago was extremely helpful to my family and I when we first arrived, helping me get a cell phone and look for apartments. Santiago also gave a presentation on CREA to the Kentucky producers when they visited.

We met at the farm of Alfonso about one hour from Venado Tuerto, and about 100 km from General Baldissera. The meeting started at 8:24 am (6 minutes early) with the round of news, where each farm reports on the latest. Most of the reports centered on how much of the corn and soybean crop has been harvested and the yields to this point. To sum things up quickly, yields look good (about 200 bu/acre for corn and 60 bu/acre for soybean). Farmers were pleased with the corn and a little disappointed with soybean. Frogeye leafspot (Circospora sojina) was a problem this year and reduced some yields.

Alfonso presented his operation to the group and has some general questions about what his 5-year plan should be with his operation. He would like to expand is acreage and put forward a proposal on how to do it. After Alfonso presented his information, the group broke into two groups and they discussed Alfonso's questions. Again, Alfonso, his family and the advisor, Juan Pablo, can not participate in this part of the meeting.

When the groups were completed with their ideas, they presented their information to Alfonso, starting at about 12:20. Again, here is where I wish I could speak or at least understand Spanish. Looking at facial expressions and general body language, I could tell when a comment was favorable or complimentary to the operation and when a comment was critical. This reminded me that none of us like to hear criticism. But, these farmers know that it is precisely that criticism that will help them improve their operations. The comments to Alfonso were complete by about 1:00 pm. So, this response by the groups is not very long, but the information is very useful.

Interestingly, the discussion drifted from responses to Alfonso to a bunch of small discussions between two or three producers. These meetings get everyone to think, both about Alfonso's operation and their own. Lunch was served at 2 pm and the conversation stopped almost immediately. Lunch was chorizo (a sausage), followed by salad, steak, ice cream bars and coffee. I really like Argentine lunches. These folks know how to feed somebody.

On a side note: two of the producers in this group knew Dr. Grant Thomas at the University of Kentucky. They visited Kentucky in 1996 or 1997 and remembered when Dr. Thomas was in Argentina. I have met many farmers in this area of Argentina that knew Dr. Thomas. Again, they credit Kentucky for teaching them how to do no-till or "siembra directa".

Santiago (bottom right) reports on his group's response to Alfonso's (middle left) questions.
More feedback to Alfonso.

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