Organized by the Agroecological Rice Management Group, the Field Day brought together farmers from different settlements and producers from a neighboring municipality, technicians, researchers, teachers and students last Friday (15).
After days of intense rain, the sun illuminated the land. The field, still flooded, did not prevent Antônio Alfredo Schefer, Tonio, from presenting his experience with the management of Persian clover, sown with a drone.
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Created in 1995, the Lagoa do Junco Settlement, in Tapes (RS), has 30 families settled in an area of 790 hectares. The area cultivated by Tonio with agroecological rice is 14 hectares, where he estimates harvesting 10 tons of agroecological rice per hectare.
The objective of this field day, the name given to moments of study and exchange of experience, sought to present possibilities for increasing rice productivity, with cover crops and bio-inputs. On the agenda, post-harvest management, with the incorporation of waste and drainage, planting of Persian clover with a drone, organic fertilizer management; Pre-planting management, with organic fertilizer, Persian clover management, crop irrigation, final soil preparation; expected outcome.
The planning and work were collective, with the involvement of the family, Tonio’s wife, Dioneia Soares Ribeiro, and his in-laws Alcinda Soares Ribeiro and Orestes da Veiga Ribeiro.
Celso Alves da Silva, from the coordination of the Agroecological Rice Management Group, explained that the experience presented is the result of an effort by the management group in recent years, seeking technologies and knowledge to advance productivity, quality and management of crops under management organic and agroecological, where there is respect for nature and the principles for producing healthy food.
From conventional to organic, a path of challenges
“The settlement has been planting rice for 24 years. It started conventionally there in 1997/98. And from 1999 onwards, the decision was made to cultivate 10 hectares with agroecological management, under the command of the settlement. In these years, many challenges have been faced, with successes and mistakes, but we realize that we have much more to learn and the management group is looking for these technologies and knowledge to contribute to our systems”, highlighted Celso.
When welcoming, Alcinda Soares Ribeiro, aka Preta, highlighted the importance of the encouragement of João Batista Volkman, a biodynamic rice producer, to start organic rice farming. Orestes da Veiga Ribeiro rescued the history of the plantation and the attempts made since 1999. “In Antônio’s project we are increasing our production capacity, we intend to reach 10 tons per hectare”, he estimated.
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Antônio Alfredo Schefer, known as Tonio, recalled that he had problems with past harvests that meant he had to deliver all the production to sell as conventional rice, and since then he has been studying how to guarantee organic production. After spending 11 years outside the settlement, with the land being cultivated by neighbors, last year he managed to harvest 7 tons per hectare, and this year his goal is to reach 10 tons, if nature allows it.
“I treated the land with 3 thousand kilos of limestone and 2 tons of poultry litter and sowed Persian clover with the drone.” Tonhão explained the process, which he said was quite complex. “If you calibrate the drone for more than 7kg of seeds per hectare, if it drops more or less, the drone stops. And you can’t bury too much, you can’t have too much straw, the guy who puts a harrow on the tractor to bury it has ruined the job. For the benefit that clover brings, I don’t consider the seed expensive.”
Possibilities and challenges of organic production
After Tonio showed how the clover was incorporated into the land with the tractor, the conversation moved to the family’s shed. A large circle was formed where production details, doubts and expectations regarding the process were discussed.
João Batista Volkman highlighted the joy of seeing the continuity of the agroecological production that he gave the impetus to begin to occur. An agricultural engineer, graduated from Ufrgs, he was a pioneer in biodynamic production in the south of the country. Neighboring the settlement, his Capão Alto das Criúvas Farm is in Sentinela do Sul. He is also a founding member of the Southern Biodynamic Agriculture Association – ABDSul. He has managed the family property since 1983, where he produces rice, corn, cassava, beans, vegetables and raises cattle biodynamically.
Edivane Portela, from the Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Center /Irga, Viamão, partner in the search for answers to face difficulties in planting, highlights that the most important thing regarding whether or not Persian clover germinates is how much it comes into contact with the ground. “Regardless of whether it is prepared or not, where the tractor tire passes and the earth becomes compacted is where the clover grows best. This is an indication that it responds well to being tightly pressed into the soil to allow it to germinate and develop.”
:: MST RS begins first phase of research to improve agroecological rice production ::
Together with the Rio Grandense do Arroz Institute (Irga), and with the help of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Ufrgs) and the Federal Farroupilha Institute (IFRS) of Viamão as invited entities, Portela has been developing the Training and Research Program since 2020 of Rice Production in Ecologically Based Systems (Pepabe) with the management group and the settlers. The experiment has three units: Nova Santa Rita, Eldorado do Sul and Viamão.
The first phase of this experiment began in April 2020. The objective of the project is to understand and qualify organic rice systems and their management techniques, currently used in production, in order to obtain better results in short-term productive viability, in addition to validate and disseminate the technologies used.
In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, there is a total of 5 thousand hectares of area that cultivates rice in ecologically based systems. Of these, around 4 thousand hectares are located in areas of Agrarian Reform settlements.
Field research and experimentation are key
Technician Ricardo Dil, from the Emater/Ascar Municipal Office, Viamão, recalled the importance of understanding the nitrogen cycle in the earth. “Our search has been long, since the 1990s, when Volkman began to encourage organic cultivation, and we cannot lose track of the principles of agroecology. It’s very easy to grab hold of tools and sink ourselves. We always need to remember diversity, biodiversity. Green manure is good, but it would be better if it were a mix. We are on a good path, as we are better understanding what we are doing, with this research in the field”, he highlighted.
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According to him, “research work, experimentation, getting to know better what we do is essential, which is why it is important for companies to be here too, because if the chicken dies it dies together, in a relationship more of partnership than exploitation” .
“I believe we are on the way because we seek to collaborate more and explore less. We are investing time in better understanding what we do. We have differences and everything is fine, in each place it will work differently. We cannot think that one tool will be a strategy for everyone. We cannot get attached to specific techniques. We increasingly need to strengthen the bonds of trust between partners”, highlighted Ricardo.
Steering group proposes new steps
Celso concluded by highlighting that it was a very important day due to participation, exchange, training, exchange of experience. “We are convinced that we must increasingly seek to control the processes in the hands of those who are directly involved. We need to master the knowledge, the seeds, have management and planning. Look at the planning you need to have to plant a clover. And this is the result of work over the last 3 years with the Training and Research Program for Rice Production in Ecologically Based Systems (Pepabe)”, he highlighted.
He also informed that a meeting has already been scheduled for September 22 for the management group with partners to build a project. “We have produced excellent results so far with the five observation units, we won the unit at Estação do Irga in Camaquã. Now we want to build a project based on the axes of productivity, own seeds, new technologies and bio-inputs, training and qualification.”
Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Editing: Marcelo Ferreira