Information is power, no matter where in the world you farm. Today, foreign farmers tap many of the same sources, including the Internet, that U.S. growers use to operate their farms more efficiently. Some even create their own sources.
In Argentina, for instance, farmers have organized their own research units, called Regional Consortiums for Agricultural Experimentation (CREA), according to David Hughes, who manages a large, family-owned farm in Buenos Aries province.
“My main source of information is from AACREA, which is a federation of the 200 CREA groups,” he says. “These are groups of farmers who hire a consultant and have monthly meetings.”
Each meeting is at a different member's farm, Hughes notes, where they analyze the host farm's business and discuss business and production issues. “Through this federation, and with universities and the INTA (the national farm research body), AACREA generates its own information,” he says.
Around the globe, Australian ag consultant Nathan Green started his information gathering by attending Texas A&M University. He now works for one of Australia's largest ag distributors.
“As was my experience in the U.S., farmers tend to be weak in the area of financial management and don't have a handle on their costs of production,” he says. “I think information utilization in agriculture has a long way to go. Producers don't see its monetary value, particularly in the area of finance, and are reluctant to pay for it.”
Ag product distributors provide Australian farmers with agronomists who help them with professional advice, according to Green. “The chemical and seed companies provide a large amount of information, but also are utilizing distributors more and more to sell the product and advise the producers.”
Brazilian farmer Chris Ward, who farms in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil, says chemical, fertilizer and other related companies play a major role in sponsoring and promoting field days and farmer gatherings, similar to the U.S.
“Farmers are always ready to have trials on their farms to get first-hand knowledge of new technology and methods,” he says. “The great surprise for many people who visit our region is the thirst for knowledge and the rapid spread of new technologies and new ideas.
“Farmers in our area will strive to reach an average of 60 bu/acre in the next 5 years. With new cultivars we're sure that this goal will be reached,” Ward says.
Similar to Argentina, grower-finance organizations in Brazil keep farmers there up to date. "It's organizations like the Mato Grasso Foundation that are responsible for our farmers success to date and in the future," adds Ward.