Planting is almost finished (mid-October) in the western area of my state of Paraná; that represents half of the state crop. Farmers are beginning to plant earlier and are doing a faster job than 10 years ago because it advances the planting of a second corn crop in early February. The frost season begins in late May. And, we also plant faster because of bigger and better machinery.

Just recently, the National Bank for Economic Development (BNDE) in Brazil announced a line of credit for farmers to buy new machinery, payable over 10 years at 2.5% annual interest rate. It’s part of an economic policy to boost industry jobs. As you can imagine, we are seeing an equipment rush toward bigger tractors, bigger planters and bigger combines.

Bigger machinery also addresses our labor shortage, a huge problem for us now compared to 10 years ago. Finding employees with experience driving tractors and combines is especially tough. In my state, a big tractor means 200 hp and costs US$110,000. That would be something like a New Holland T7-245.

A John Deere STS 9770 combine costs us US$350,000. A 21-row, 17-in.-row-space planter costs US$100,000. Bigger is better now.

Another trend here is precision ag. Some farmers have done it very successfully, and are catching others’ attention. But most farmers here are suspicious of this new technology. They would rather trust their own eyes and judgment for lime and fertilizer recommendations; I’m not kidding! Most local farmers only do soil samples because it is mandatory to obtain bank financing. Even so, they sample tiny little spots by the road. But that technology will come. As more neighbors begin to have excellent crops, the laggards will be motivated to discover their secrets. Remember, farmers are the same all over the world.