Tchau Tchau Brazil!

February 7-8, 2019

This morning was our last day day in Brazil. We woke up and went to the ESALQ store to purchase souvenirs. We then went to the Cachaçaria that is also a part of the ESALQ campus. We made one last stop at the grocery store to purchase our last snacks from Brazil. Many of us bought cheese puffs, coffee, and candy! We then stopped at Dama, a microbrewery. Here we toured the facilities and learned about the process of making the beer.

For lunch we went to the river, we had fish, fries, rice, and salad. This was our last Brazilian meal. We thanked Christina, Shirota, and Leticia for all their hard work and dedication to our program. I truly can not believe that our time in the country is over already!

Around 3 p.m. we began our journey to Sao Paulo to the airport. Once at the airport we checked our luggage and made our way through security and found our gate. We had dinner in the airport before we began our 10 hour flight home.

We landed in Toronto, Canada around 5 a.m. We were so excited to be back in our time zone and in North America. Most were even excited to see the snow! We had to go through customs and then we had some time to relax before our flight to Columbus.

We boarded our plane at 9:00 a.m. and began our flight to Columbus. It felt so wonderful to see others wearing OSU gear and everyone was speaking English! Once we landed in Columbus we were reunited with our families and immediately began sharing about our adventures.

Brazil, thank you so much for the endless memories you have given us. We are so thankful for the kind hearts, warm weather, and adventures we had. We gained life long friendships and you will forever have a place in our hearts!

Muito Obrigada!

-Meredith Oglesby

The Return of the Host Families

February 6, 2019

Today was our final full day in Brazil. We began with our final presentations at ESALQ. Each group took a turn presenting on a topic that they found interesting in Brazil and their agriculture. Good discussions were had about each topic and Professor Shirota offered good insights for each topic.

Afterwards, we had lunch at Toque Brasilia for the final time, which was one of our favorite places for lunch. We had a free afternoon so many spent time packing or finishing some journaling before an ice cream run with Dr. King.

In the evening we had a last dinner with our host families. We all enjoyed catching up and sharing about our long trip. Our host families will always hold a special place in our hearts and memories of Brazil. After our goodbyes we headed back to Antonio’s for one last night. To celebrate our last night in Brazil we headed to Toca de Coruja, which has also become one of our favorite places. We all shared stories of our 6 weeks and how fast our time has gone. Brazil has treated us very well and we will all miss the people, food, and experiences we had.


There was an article in the newspaper featuring our service project!

-McKenzie Davis


Piracicaba, You Stole Our Hearts!

February 5, 2019
Today we had a free day to finish up our group projects and catch up on some much needed
sleep. Most of us slept in until 9 a.m. and went down for breakfast after. For myself, I got together with Phil to work on our group project at 10.
Our project is comparing food labeling between the United States and Brazil. It has been really interesting to see how the history and economy of both countries have contributed to their labeling. Overall, though, both countries are seeing much of the same problems between the two. Both need to give the consumers as much accurate information as possible. Along with that, consumers need to be educated on what these labels mean so that their decisions are made on accurate information. After working on the project, we grabbed a quick lunch at Subway, which is one restaurant that we know is very quick and easy. We then went to the grocery store to grab some supplies that we need for our presentation as well as food we would like to take home to our families. We spent the rest of the afternoon working on the project and creating our presentation.
Some of the other topic projects for our class include:
  • Agricultural Communication in Brazil
  • Comparing Soybean Production in the United States vs Brazil
  • Impacts of Farming on Flora and Fauna
  • The Impact of the Rural Sentiment on Brazilian Agriculture
In the evening we had the chance to go to Professor Shirota’s house for a barbecue! He has
been really generous to us all trip and we were all really appreciative of him for opening his
house up to us. His apartment was huge, especially for Brazil, and it overlooked the river and
the rest of the beautiful city. We cooked and ate downstairs at the patio and we had a great
time talking and eating delicious food. He made fried mozzarella and pineapple as an appetizer and went on to make sausage and beef for the entrée. For desert was something called “Romeo and Juliet” which was a cheese with guava. We also had doce de leite with the same cheese. After staying there for two hours we helped him cleaned up and headed back to the hotel for the night.

Piracicaba, you have a special place in our hearts now.

One last Brazilian BBQ before our journey home!

-Milan Pozderac

Sugar, Sugar

February 4, 2019

Today, we had our last tour of the long trip. We toured a sugarcane processing facility called Raizem, who owns the Shell corporation here in Brazil. In the morning, our hosts took the time to explain everything we need to know about sugarcane. We learned about how sugarcane is planted, how it grows, growing practices used to create more sugar, and how the sugarcane is harvested and processed.

After our morning presentations, we took a break for lunch before going on a tour of Raizem’s facilities. We got to see all of the trucks that bring sugarcane into the plant, as well as harvesters. The facility has three main functions: producing sugar, producing ethanol for energy production, and sending the byproduct ethanol to distilleries to create sugarcane liquor. After a short tour of the facilities, we took our tour bus to the sugarcane fields owned by Raizem.

In the fields, we got to see what we learned about sugarcane that morning. We saw some of the plant growth stages in different fields that were planted at different times, as well as seeing some different varieties that Raizem was experimenting with for better production. We even got to see some common pests of sugarcane that we had discussed earlier that morning!

After spending some time in the fields, we headed back to the conference room, where we returned our safety equipment, said goodbye to our hosts, and made the long journey back to Piracicaba. Upon our return, a group of us went out to our favorite burger place right next to Antonio’s. After dinner, we said goodbye to our regular waiter there, and went back to the hotel to rest up before working on projects tomorrow.

In the field looking at the sugar cane plants!

Thank you for a great day learning about sugar cane!

-Shem Pond

Last Weekend, Best Weekend

February 2 & 3, 2019

Today, we didn’t have to leave the hotel till 11 a.m. so we all caught up on sleep. When 11 rolled around we boarded the bus and departed for our next hotel, which was a resort in Caldas Novas. When we got to Caldas Novas we ate lunch at a Brazilian restaurant. While at the restaurant some Brazilian asked to take a picture with the “funny looking gringos” and we obliged.

When we arrived at the resort we checked in to our rooms and changed into our swimsuits as quickly as we could. Soon we were lounging by one of the seven pools at the resort with cold drinks in our hands. When dinner time rolled around we briefly reconvened at the hotel restaurant before heading back to the pool for the rest of the evening.

The next morning we celebrated Dr. King’s birthday at breakfast. Afterwards, we headed back out to the pool for the morning. At noon we checked out from the hotel and ate lunch at a rodizio in Caldas Novas.

After eating all we could, we boarded the bus and traveled to our last stop on the long trip, Uberaba. In Uberaba, we met one of Shirota’s friends for dinner at a pizza place before retiring to the hotel to try and watch the Super Bowl.


Pool Day!

We are so grateful for all you have done for us these past six weeks!

Happy Birthday Dr. King!

-Todd Peterson

Charlene Was Right

February 1, 2019

Today we visited the John Deere Assembly in Catalao, where they assemble two different models of sprayers, and two different models of sugar cane harvesters. We started off our morning with our usual breakfast and not enough coffee, and then had a short drive to the facility.

We were greeted by their university relations team who are volunteers that in addition to their normal job help with visits by any university that visits their facility. We learned about the history of the facility as well as their role in exporting sprayers and sugar cane harvesters to other countries around the world.

After their presentation, they introduced to a product engineer from Iowa that is working in Catalao for two years, helping with fixing customer’s machines when a problem occurs. We were all excited to hear that all to familiar midwest accent. We also found it interesting to hear about international job opportunities that may arise as we enter the workforce.

We then took a tour of their production line which produces around 3,000 machines a year. They first showed us the beginning of the production process, where they receive steel sheets and cubes and use lasers and other machines to create desired parts. We then saw the welding area, where they took the newly cut pieces of steel and began to form them into larger parts. We also saw from a distance the painting area, as they couldn’t let us see the secret way they make that “John Deere Green” look so good. We then saw the final area of the production line.

Once all of the big parts of the machines are assembled they begin to put the final product together. It was much like watching adults put together huge Legos, as they put them together so easily and quickly.

Finally, we got to see some finished harvesters and sprayers and got to sit in their cabs and act like we knew what every control does. After that we ate lunch with our guides, and as always enjoyed the Brazilian cuisine. We thanked the team for their amazing tour and for giving us an in depth look at their production process, and we headed back to the hotel for much needed naps and project work!

Thank you John Deere for the tour!

-Evan Callicoat


The Chaco Express Returns

January 31, 2019

Bom Gia!

Today we had a real treat, the chance to visit AgroFava, a farm owned by a close friend of our own Professor Shirota. It consists of nearly 24,000 hectares, or 59,000 acres! Their second yearly crop is over 20,000 acres as well. On this farm they grow corn, soybeans, coffee, edible beans, seed soybeans, and seed corn. While we were onsite they even started construction on their own private cell phone tower!

AgroFava not only farms that many acres, it also operates a seed company roughly the same size as Seed Consultants in Ohio. We were able to tour the seed cleaning, treating, and bagging facilities. For efficiency AgroFava uses self-sealing bags. Many in the group thought US seed companies should convert to these easy packing bags! The company is able to store 33,000 metric tons of seed soybeans and can treat 80 tons an hour. They also grow seed corn and beans for well-known companies like Monsanto and DuPont.

To support their business AgroFava employees nearly 400 people, 40 of which live on site. They even provide lunch for all of their employees at an on-site cafeteria! The seed growing portion of the business requires massive amounts of water. To accommodate this need they built 12 dams to store surface water. This irrigation allows them to achieve an average yield of 60 bushels per acre for their seed acreage.

The coffee grown by AgroFava averages a yield 15 percent higher than the rest of Brazil! Over the course of the day we saw coffee plants ranging from 1 month to 15 years old. The first harvest of all coffee in Brazil must be done by hand and all harvest after that can be done with massive machines. We learned that young coffee requires a grass block in between each row for wind protection. Being able to see the pests common to coffee such as the White Fly illustrated to us just how difficult coffee farming could be.

Thank you for showing us your farm!

Farm Tours!

We learned about planting and harvesting of coffee.

-Johnny Cottingim


Small Town Brazil

January 30, 2019

Today we began in the ITY Hotel in Cristalina, Brazil. We headed to a local farm to spend the day visiting many parts of their operation. The Fazenda Figueiredo Farm has over 20,000 hectares, which is around 43,000 acres. They plant corn, soybeans, oats, edible beans, coffee, and silage. Along with grains and coffee they also raise dairy cows. We started the morning on their dairy operation which has around 1,000 milking cows and 2,300 total Holstein dairy cows; which produces around 9,200 gallons of milk per day. Their dairy has received many awards- including the “Best Dairy Farm in Brazil” for 2018. At their dairy farm they have a pilot program of solar panels, which are floating in their water retention pond. Having these solar panels off-sets their electricity usage by a large amount and they are looking to be completely sustainable in the coming years. We were also able to see them chopping silage, hauling, and packing into the bunkers. This silage is then incorporated into a total mixed ration of feed for the dairy cows.

After visiting the dairy we had lunch at the ITY Restaurant, which is next to our ITY Hotel for a quality Brazilian lunch hour(s). Following lunch we visited another location of their farm to see coffee processing. After coffee is harvested it is spread out on large places of pavement to dry in the sun and then it is shelled to get the beans out. We were able to see coffee in all stages of this processing. We were also able to see a coffee harvester, which uses vibrating bristles to “pick” the coffee. The farmer also started the harvester and demonstrated how it runs, which was neat to see. Also we were able to get up close to the coffee trees and pick some green beans.

Following the coffee processing we headed to the fields to see some soybean harvesting. They were running 3 Case IH combines to harvest a soybean field. Although many of us have seen combines and soybeans this was unique because surrounding the harvested field were soybean fields that were still dark green and weeks from being harvested. The climate of Brazil allows for planting and harvesting times to vary throughout all of the regions.

We then headed to see some corn planting. Here they were using a John Deere 8230 and a 2122 planter in a field that also has a center pivot irrigation system. We were able to get up close and look at the seed depth, fertilizer, and type of seed.

Also, what is unique about this farm is that they have housing on each of their 7 farms to allow for workers to have ease in their commute. For those workers in the city they have busses to transport workers each day. This is a great benefit of working for Fazenda Figueiredo Farms.

To end the day we had dinner at the ITY Restaurant, which is named well for this ity bity town.


Looking at coffee beans

A great day at a dairy cattle operation!

Looking at coffee on the plant!

We saw planting and harvesting all in one day!

-McKenzie Davis

Becoming T.V. Famous

January 29, 2019

This morning, we said our final goodbye to Brasilia. After an early checkout at the hotel, we piled onto the bus to begin our trip back to Piracicaba!

We began our day with a meeting at CNA, which is Brazil’s equivalent to American Farm Bureau. CNA’s main purpose is to represent farmers all over Brazil, no matter how large or small. Not only do they lobby on behalf of farmers, but they also provide education and support in the field. CNA has vocational education, technicians to show farmers how to use equipment, and a variety of communication routes to communicate with all farmers, no matter what level of technology they have.

After getting to know more about the organization, we engaged in discussion with our host about a number of issues facing agriculture today. Our topics ranged from social influence and youth education, to global trade and cooperation between Brazil and the United States. Afterwards, we enjoyed some refreshments while we continued conversations, and a few of us were interviewed for CNA’s news segment.

Check out the article here!

For lunch, we headed to a “farmer’s market,” or at least what used to be one. This building was full of various stores like shoe stores, clothing, books, vegetables, and even a barber. A few of us found places to eat, and after a short time exploring the “farmer’s market,” we loaded back onto the bus and headed for a national park.

Once at the park, we hiked along a one-mile trail, where Dr. Shirota showed us all the different kinds of vegetation in the Cerrado region of Brazil. After the hike, we were free to enjoy the public pool at the entrance of the park, and this is where we spent the whole afternoon.

After our lazy afternoon at the park, we made our final leg of the journey for today, ending at our hotel in Cristalina, a city south of Brasilia. We all gathered for dinner at a restaurant just behind the hotel, where we relaxed and unwound from the long travel day. Then, it was back to the hotel to rest up for a whole new day of adventures!

CNA provides farmers with programming and other educational resources.

Thank you CNA for a great visit!

We had a great afternoon at the natural spring!

-Shem Pond


Ministers, Milho, and Meat

January 28, 2019

We got up and had breakfast as usual, eating cakes, fruits, and pão de queijo. We filed onto the bus and drove an hour away to Embrapa, a large agricultural research company. When we got there, they gave a short presentation about the company and Brazil. The company has 47 research stations all over the country of Brazil. They then filed us on a smaller bus, and we drove across the street to observe some of their research plots. They first showed us the corn and soybeans they were working with. The studies consisted of the effects that nitrogen fixing bacteria had on soybeans versus actually placing nitrogen in the soil. It was a pretty interesting study! They were testing the overall yield that they would produce under each condition. This research is relevant and holds importance to all agriculture in the Cerrado region of Brazil due to the lack of available nitrogen in the soil to grow crops effectively and efficiently.
Next, they took us over to another area where they tested the right and wrong ways to plant mixtures of corn, soybeans and a plant called braccharea. They explained how growing this grass as a cover crop is  great due to how aggressively it grows. Their presence prevents all other weeds from growing. They would plant corn first and then braccharea. Additionally, the vet there discussed how growing it and having beef cattle on top of that was a great way for farmers to make more money in the end since the cattle are only present for smaller amounts of time and the rest of the time can be utilized to grow other crops.
We then left for lunch and ate at a place that was recommended to us by the workers at Embrapa called Fogão Goeano. It was an all you can eat buffet and was very good. There was a great variety of foods, from many different meats to many different fruits. After this, we hopped back on the bus and headed to the Ministry of Agriculture in the center of Brasília.
We first were led to a private meeting with the Secretary of Political Relations. He gave a short presentation about Brazil’s agriculture in relation to ours and then did a Q and A session. They even had their own photographer taking photos of us and for us. We got a photo and went on our way to meet with a individuals in the department of Agropecurarea, or the office that handles agricultural zoonoses and food and drink safety among other things. They each told us about their jobs, all having to do with food and drink safety. We learned that Brazil had completely eradicated hoof and mouth disease in the country. We went to see some important rooms in the building like conference rooms and where the minister would meet with foreign diplomats. We went to the Agriculture museum and saw tons of artifacts from the beginning of Brazil to a plaque that will be dedicated soon for a recent accomplishment. We then headed to the Library of Agriculture and got to see their book systems as well as tons of important documents from even 200 years ago. The book system was made in the United States. The librarian told us that some books were from the imperial age of Brazil. It was awesome!
We then headed up the elevator to the 9th floor, where the minister of agriculture’s office was located. Half of us made it up into his office, but we couldn’t figure out what happened to the others. We got separated taking elevators up to the floor and those of us in his office admired the view of the Congress building and surrounding area while we waited. It turned out that the other half got stuck in their elevator for maybe 10 minutes! Eventually though they made and the minister spoke to us for a time, with Shirota translating. He spoke for a time about his position and how deforestation is not what it seems in Brazil. Additionally, he spoke about the conservation of the native Indians in the Amazon.
Next we left for the hotel. Soon after, we went to dinner at a restaurant called Speed Lunch, which was a typical burgers, stroganoff, and rice and beans. The food was pretty good. We then went back to the hotel and retired for the night! We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Learning about soybean and corn research!

Researcher explaining how he is improving the environmental sustainability of beef.

Thank you to Embrapa Cerrado for the tour!

Thank you to the Ministry of Agriculture for talking with us today!

Thank you to the head of the cabinet for the Secretary of Agriculture to speaking with us!

-Laina Green