By Mario Garcia, Exagro Executive Director and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Professionals in Sustainable Livestock
A few years ago, it began several discussions on climate issues. Since the first debates on global warming, we had too much sensationalism and liars trying to take advantage of it.
I’ll begin at this point, because it is right here where some justifications for many thoughts that some think inadequate but that were strongly affected by such extremism.
Faced with so much information, well or poorly motivated, once again we contrapose: those who believe in climate change as a result of human actions and those who do not believe. I believe that one day humankind will achieve relieve the weight of these ancient dichotomies of heaven and hell, God and devil, evil and good, etc. Culminating today with left and right, rich and poor, black and white and so on… Such extremism in addition to corroborate for exploitation on the part of the “saints saviors”, feeds the process of recruitment of young people as we have recent seen in episodes in France.
In other words, many people insist on feeding such position because they profit from the situation in which some other no longer seek the scientific foundations or even the evolution of it to take decisions, most of the time convinced what they know little about or nothing.
This introduction was to say that, I do not know what is happening with the climate. I do not know if it is global warming, but I have noticed that the Mango trees are fruiting at wrong time, the Trumpet trees are blowing without synchronism as they were previously and that the rains are erratic and in smaller volumes than in the recent past.
In view of this observation, I would like to share with you these thoughts and I hope that it can be useful in the decision-making process when working with livestock. Despite the fact that I circulate throughout Brazil, it draws my attention to the lack of rains in the center of the state of Minas Gerais since the rainy season of 2013/2014 and which worsened in the season of 2014/2015. This situation has affected much of the Savana, covering also other states and other ecosystems in some moments.
“What can we do to face the challenges of nature?” Ask some, already rehearsing “There is nothing to do!”At this point, while respecting the level of stress of each one and the consequences that the climatic instability has brought to all I say: We have so much to do!
The bigger the challenge, the more we have to do. The lack of rains in addition to all the productive sequels shakes our hope and faith, and thus we used improperly the resources we have. The first feature that comes to my mind is intelligence and knowledge as well as technology that has evolved considerably over the last decades.
I will justify my beliefs with some examples, but these should not be taken as guidelines, but as the trigger for each one of you reevaluate your business.
MANAGEMENT: if back than management was always seen as something important, now it might be a splitter between tolerant and non-tolerant to climate stress. Learn about the physiology of the species that is being used is crucial in this context. Depending on the physiology and with soil and climate data in hands is fundamental to adjust animal load for the new reality not only due to the availability of dry matter, but designing over time the next actions. As well as in the game of chess, it is necessary to think about the next moves and different scenarios that may occur after your decision. Otherwise, the price may be up to the death of pastures by not supporting the triad little rain, low fertility (or low replacement of nutrients) and high load.
CHOICE OF FORAGE: During my travels, I have noticed that a point that seems to be unanimity in several regions is the desire to work with the best forage (the one that produces more) or to work with one that is in fashion. Usually it doesn’t work. Seeking for the best results and bigger production, people make mistake changing grasses adapted to the soil of the farm to introduce a non-adapted without giving them conditions of fertility and, nowadays, poor water. As a result, we have loss of productive potential associated with the loss of equity in the form of soil, loss of fertility, loss of productivity and consequently, reduction of animal stock, which feeds back and advances age-the cycle of impoverishment.
Fig. 1 – Brachiaria brizantha in Savana of low fertility
SOIL PREPARATION: In an attempt to achieve better pastures, many owners choose to change the forage used, as mentioned in the previous item, but this decision can be aggravated by the failure of soil preparation, correction, fertilization and adequate knowledge of nutrient limitation in order of priority. Plowing and simply throw the seeds can be a hazardous operation today and especially in areas of low fertility or depleted by use.
Last week I made an analogy with a cattle rancher friend of mine saying that, each time we plow we kill a little bit of the soil. The majority of people do not know that in addition to its life, soil has its fertility based on three pillars (chemical, physical and biological) and that any action must be planned to minimize the negative effects of human intervention in a so fragile environment.
I believe that in the future, with the development of the institutions and reduction of rotten policy, misguided interventions will be liable to tax assessment because it is patrimony of humanity. I cannot fail to score here my belief that no one owns anything, what humanity created was a system of temporary possession in our short passage on earth called scripture and record, but in 100 years someone will need the areas of current production to feed their offspring. Without taking the right of the “current owners” to do what they want but assigning them the responsibility for the consequences.
Fig. 2 – Attempt to resettle the plant stand
PLANNING: Planning deserves a special attention in days of high challenge. I’ll try to put in word what I have seen and heard about planning.
“Things don’t always work as we plan!” This is true, whoever set a planning “right on the spot” is not a good planner but a prophet! I shall say that, Planning is not like walking on railroad! In other words, planning wasn’t made to be followed to the letter but to align the actions, predict changes with different scenarios, involve the entire team to give their suggestions and opinions and also awake collective intelligence. Here is a point to all the “always right people” which determine the course of things by themselves and believe that only communicating “their plan” to the team it’s ok. It is not.
I often say that this is similar as to promise to another person meet. A good plan is a participatory one, which involves people causing them an immense desire to make it happen, after all, “if I took part creating a good plan, I will do anything to make it happen and show the results”. If there is any doubt, start changing your behavior and you will see the difference such as lower employee turnover, improved team concept and commitment with the results.
SUPPLEMENTS AND FOOD ADDITIVES: the new nutritional technologies available are the “icing on the cake” of livestock in which it may be easy for some or a problem for others I will explain it. The technologies available and validated by current researches are excellent when delivering raise performance and results but it will only work for those who do it right. To do it properly it is necessary to adjust the management, know about the performance of each lot and plan the time of sale with an estimate price guaranteed in stock.
There are doubts about the economic viability with respect to the use of these technologies; the answer depends on the way in which they are applied, if used with criteria and refined management, it can be compared to any available financial application. If it is implanted on the farm because my neighbor said he liked it or the technician recommend me, it may not bring the expected result.
These are just a few examples to be analyzed every day. You may be asking yourself, “what is new about all this?” Nothing new, but face current challenges with old mistakes reaffirms the belief of Heaven and Hell with a clear advantage of the second.