Wheat Growers welcomes Chilean agriculture group

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Wheat Growers hosted 15 farmers and agribusiness people from Chile as part of their U.S. Ag Tour. Aberdeen was the second stop on the 10-day tour that took the group from North and South Dakota to Iowa, Kansas and Illinois.

click image to zoomChilean Ag Tour visited Wheat Growers headquarters in Aberdeen, S.D. The Aberdeen visit began at Wheat Growers headquarters, where the group received a review of the scope of the cooperative’s business from Wheat Growers CEO, Dale Locken and Bill Pool, Wheat Growers Director of Communications and Corporate Marketing. The Chileans then toured Wheat Growers’ Grebner grain facility and the Bath fertilizer facility as well as the West Terminal and the Advanced BioEnergy ethanol plant. They wrapped up the day at the Wheat Growers agronomy plot tour near Bath.

“There are vast differences in the size and scope of agriculture between Wheat Growers and Chile,” Bill Pool said. “But the time we spent with these farmers and agribusiness people showed us that in spite of the differences, we share a passion for agriculture and a desire to continue to develop new and better ways to feed and fuel the world.”

Narciso Gonzalez is a farmer from Mafil, Chile. He found some interesting differences between farming in South Dakota and farming in Chile.

“It’s another scale, much more land being farmed and the machinery and facilities are so much larger,” Gonzalez said. “And also, there’s a great difference in the land. It’s very flat here and our land has more hills and valleys.”

click image to zoomWheat Growers' Bath fertilizer facility manager Dick Siefkes (left) talks with Cristobal Leal (center) of Chilean Ag Tour. The Chilean landscape is much more mountainous, and as a result less than three percent of the land in Chile is arable.

Cristobal Leal is the head of the department of agriculture for Kunstmann Mills in Valdivia, Chile.

“In terms of productivity, I come from the third biggest milling company in Chile. It’s a big operation, but nothing like this,” Leal said. “The scale is quite different. For example, our biggest seeder is eight meters, and you have a 20-meter seeder. It’s also very impressive what is being done with precision agriculture and also caring about environmental concerns.”

The Chilean group will wind up their tour with a visit to the Chicago Board of Trade before heading back to their farms and businesses in Chile.

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