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Brazilian Wheat Scientist to Address Direct Seed Conference

PULLMAN, Wash. — As Brazil shifts from conventional tillage systems to direct seeding it is becoming an increasingly tough global competitor for Northwest wheat growers.

Roger Veseth, Washington State University/University of Idaho conservation tillage specialist, said Brazil is expected to have about 25 million acres under direct seeding in this crop year.  That represents about 25 percent of Brazil’s cropland.  The country also has a potential of bringing about 250 million acres of new farmland into direct seed production.

Insights into the reasons behind Brazil’s direct seed movement will be a special feature of the 2nd Northwest Direct Seed Cropping Systems Conference and Trade Show, Jan. 5-7, in Spokane.

Gilberto Tomm, Director for Research at the National Wheat Research Center near Passo Fundo, Brazil, will be a conference speaker.

Tomm’s research has focused on management systems for alternative crops and rotations under direct seeding.  Although 1998 data are not yet complete, some examples of 1997 statistics provide insight into our national and international competition, said Veseth.

About five percent of Pacific Northwest cropland is under no-till, direct seed systems.  This compares to the U.S. average of 16 percent, Brazil’s 15 percent, Canada’s 18 percent, Argentina’s 28 percent and western Australia’s 30 percent.

Brazil’s no-till acres grew slowly from a few thousand acres in 1972 to 3 million in 1990. Since then, it rapidly increased to 10 million in 1995 and 15 million in 1997.  Veseth said it is expected to exceed 25 million acres in 1998.

The pending development of nearly 250 million acres of new farmland under direct seed systems in the Cerrados area of Brazil could dramatically expand use of direct seeding.

Once considered not feasible to farm under conventional tillage because of the fragile soil landscapes, the Cerrados promises to become a productive and sustainable farming region under direct seeding, Veseth said.

The Conference program also features 36 other speakers, including researchers and industry representatives and 16 growers from across the Pacific Northwest, Northern Great Plains, Canada, and Argentina.

The Conference is sponsored by the PNW STEEP III program, Monsanto and other agricultural support companies, in cooperation with a number of Pacific Northwest grower organizations, conservation district associations, and other agricultural support groups and agencies.

Conference pre-registration is $75 through Dec. 18, and $90 after that date.  Contact the NW Direct Seed Conference office at 509-547- 5538, Fax 547-5563, or e-mail to receive a Conference program and pre-registration brochure, or Trade Show/Sponsorship prospectus.

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