•  Bill Crabtree harvesting 2009 crop

  • Iguazu falls, South America 2016

  • Cotton, Rondonopolis, Brazil, South America 2016

  • On the Amazon, South America 2016

  • 13 t/ha wheat crop in England on 2015 Europe Ag Tour

  • Finding ANZAC relations’ graves in Ypres, Belgium, 2015 Europe Ag Tour

  • China Tour 2013

     China-Vietnam Study Tour 2013

  •  China-Vietnam Study Tour 2013

  •  China-Vietnam Study Tour 2013

  •  North America Study Tour 2010

  •  North America Study Tour 2010

  • James Crabtree

     The late James Crabtree (92) enjoying the fruits of our labour

  •  The 2011 crop year – our best so far

  •  The 2011 crop year – our best so far

  •  The 2011 crop year – our best so far

  •  The 2011 crop year – our best so far

  •  The 2011 crop year – our best so far

Past Tours

40 Australian farmers from WA, SA, Victoria and Queensland flew in 15 aeroplanes around the great continent of South America in August. They were led by Bill and Monique Crabtree and Wayne and Renee Smith. It took four leaders to manage this lively group who attempted to get lost at airports, and miss the bus.

South American Agricultural Study Tour

with Bill Crabtree and Wayne Smith

3 weeks in August 2016

On board was our delightful local Argentine Agronomist, Richard Dean.

The trip started with a historic occasion in Agriculture. We visited the GM drought tolerant wheat trials in Argentina.
We sat in on the AAPRESID conference where Wayne Smith and Bill Crabtree were guest speakers.
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La Pampas

The next four days were spent visiting extremely hospitable cattle and cropping farmers on La Pampas, a rich and varied Agricultural landscape of the Buenos Aires province.
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Iguazu falls to Brazil

A quick flight to the Iguazu falls, where we stayed in the Sheraton resort in the national park to make the most of our daylight hours trekking besides these powerful waters.

By coach we arrived in Brazil and noticed the rural towns appeared more financial than the rural towns we left behind us in Argentina.
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The group had lunch and a superb history lesson with pioneer no-tiller Herbert Bartz, then visited wheat and corn farms at Rolandia.
The group flew to Rondonopolis, Brazil where we were loaded on two minibuses to visit the local research station for an overview of Rondonopolis growing seasons and crop rotations. Then we viewed the expansive operations and infrastructure of Girassol Sementes. We admired the cold seed storage, cotton gin and cotton crops on this vast farm.
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The women admired the beautiful farmhouse with large ovens, hired help in the kitchen, homemade soap, and tiled floors. An agricultural student, Getulio, escorted us in Rondonopolis, and he did a fine job of getting us to places, with his bi-lingual skills.
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The next plane flight took us to Manaus where we began our adventure in the humid, vast and beautiful Amazon.  The highlights were swimming with dolphins and piranhas in the river at the basic River Lodge, and seeing Caimans (alligators) in the same river.

We visited a subsistent Amazon farmer and learnt that every plant has a medicinal or food value.  We drank sugarcane and some ate a jungle grub which tasted like coconut.  We fished for piranhas and walked through the jungle. One evening we learnt how to make Caipirinhas, Brazil’s national drink.
Cashew fruit.

Lima, Peru

The next flight took us to Lima, Peru where we made our way to Cusco, a city at high altitude. Some experienced altitude sickness, so we were instructed to walk slower and take medication.  One group travelled out to view the historical agricultural terraces and active salt mines.
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Another group visited the Cusco craft markets to purchase llama and alpaca jumpers followed by an evening cooking lesson at the local Chocolate shop.  We learnt how to make Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink.  Potatoes, Chicken and Rice were also on the menu. 
The next day we caught the train to Machu Picchu.  The train travelled through the agricultural fields of Peruvian farmers and we could see them working with their subsistent equipment.

The view and stories of Machu Picchu did not disappoint us, and the local alpacas were in breeding season it seemed.

The following day we retraced our steps and finished our agricultural tour in Lima, Peru with a farewell dinner on the top floor of the Hilton hotel at Miraflores. This hotel had the most comfortable beds.
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Two thirds of the tourers flew on to peaceful Ecuador to explore Quito and pristine Galapagos islands on a 5 day motor yacht cruise. 

Take home messages

The take home messages from this agricultural study tour were:
Suppressive Government policy and massive taxes can really damage the agricultural industry and it takes a long time to rebuild when this does happen. This has happened in Argentina and there has been no investment back into Agriculture because there has been no money.  Whereas there is an innovativeness in Brazil, as farmers in new areas found niche markets, and created their own seeding companies where none existed.
Many farms have become corporations and companies as they have expanded their land and their research and development budget.

Also the Brazilian roads are full of trucks. Recently a new rail line has been opened which will make the cost of moving grain to port substantially cheaper. This will impact us in Australia as the Brazilians will become more competitive with their grain selling prices.
The Incas in Peru were good farmers historically.
Then English, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese farmers migrated to South America from Europe in the last 200 years. Together they can be proud of the modern agriculture they do, and do very successfully.

Thank you to all the technical guides and farmers and their staff whose hospitality was unbelievable.

They fed us beautiful South American food fresh from the oven and provided us with a comfortable chair and shared their stories with us.

We are very appreciative and look forward to returning that hospitality down under.
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Join Bill Crabtree and Wayne Smith in the first three weeks of August 2016.
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