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Countryside, cows, soybean and sustainability

I went to the countryside last week. It is in the northeast of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil - on the fields above the mountains. The terrain is vast, and we cannot see the end. The little mountains on the top, called “cochilhas”, cut the endless campaign. Among the fields there are forests dominated by Araucaria pine. I visited warm and friendly people who are family from the side of my father. I walked the cows, ate a lot of food, searched for insects and had long conversations with my cousin.

The agribusiness is strong in the area too, especially soybean and corn. The gaucho figure, the cowboy from the south, is ever changing on this piece of land.

The conversations with my cousin were very interesting. He is an agronomist, environmentally friendly who has a balanced view about land and agronomic production. We talked about conservation, soybean, grasslands, cattle and moths.

Soybean is a big thing. I would say it is the actual big thing in the south of Brazil.

Zero Hora, our most read newspaper, said yesterday that the harvest was a complete success. My cousin said that the climate helped, production was high, and the dollar price is good for exportation. China is the biggest client while the price fluctuates daily with the speculation of the international market. And the story follows - soybean against fields against forests against conservation. Environmental conservation and agriculture sometimes have a hard time in negotiating. It is not different there.

I have a preference to the cattle raising in the fields. I think it is much more sustainable than to plant soybean, corn or any other culture. The grassland is native to the fields and the diversity is huge. It supports uncountable number of animals, especially invertebrates. When there is no grassland in the fields, there is a mischaracterization of the landscape. In this case, it is a mischaracterization of culture as well. The land of barbecue – the title proudly carried by the city Lagoa Vermelha - may be the new land of soybean, which is consumed in China. Of course, the world is changing, the place is developing, and new technologies are arriving. But I would be very glad if the fields changed back to the cattle, with the new technologies and studies helping to improve production and sustainability.

The pictures are from the field of my cousins. The brown moth is an Sphingidae. I do not have a collection or a guide with me to try to get the id - Another problem, for another post.

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