By: Megan Harper, Shelby Wade, Cori Green, and Lauren Nickell
With stomachs probably still full from the steak dinner last night, this morning, we packed our things and headed out on our first cross country venture. Souped up to look like Mercedes, our two fully packed vans left for our first visit of the day. Before we could even get out of the city, both buses were soft asleep dreaming of wine, zip lining, and all the other adventures that are to come.
For the first time we were out of the city and finally got to see some of the Pampas that we had been described all week. Imagine a mix between the rolling hills of Kentucky and the flat Corn Belt seems to be the perfectly way to describe it. Unless you looked at an Argentinean license plate, the combination of horse, cattle, grain bins, farm machinery and row crops being harvested, our route simply felt like traveling in the United States.
Today we visited Haras La Leyenda which is a Thoroughbred horse farm. The operation is on 250 hectares in which they carry out a breeding, boarding, and studding business in the horse racing industry. The farm was bought in 2007. They did research in 2008 by spending two weeks in Lexington at the major horse farms and then came back and created a team to develop a business plan and farm plan. In November of 2008, they bought their four foundation mares at Keeneland. To date they still come to Lexington for the sales every year twice a year. (In fact one of the other classmates helps them export horses from Lexington to Argentina. By the numbers this farm has 19 employees, 90% pregnancy rate, and 250 horses. They have been very successful in the horse racing in Argentina and are selling breeding stock all over.
Unlike Polo games – horse races, jumping events, and dressage are for everyone. Many parents even send their kids to learn about dressage. Owner says the three keys to his success were Good Labor, Good Pasture Control, and Genetics. There were several differences to the operation to how we do horse racing in Lexington. One is the horses eat 20% hay, 15% concentrate, and the rest is from grazing soybeans and corn on rotation during the Summer months (January to February). They graze down to 40% of the stems and don’t want them too full because they want the horses to move around the pasture. They want 17-18% alfalfa hay which is mostly stems. Horses are weighed every 2 months to monitor their nutrition and pasture effectiveness. Horses are almost always kept on pasture. The exceptions are if they are preparing them for sales and breeding. They also still do the pony beside pre-sale training even though it involves more use of resources and labor. The team was very cultural loyal aware of Argentina and history of Argentina and more or less used it as a guide in decisions.
After the thoroughbred farm, we visited Rizobacter microbiology company which specializes in seed treatment. Their mission is to supply technology and solutions to farmers. They are the pioneers of the production of liquid inoculations which are when plants have symbiotic relationships with bacteria. Rizobacter works mostly with soybeans. In the United States, the biology is driven by the chemical where as in Argentina it is inoculant/bacteria driven. This is because we have to deal with weather temperatures, and disease during planting season.
Rizobacter uses 50% of their profits for research and development. They are committed to environmental care and high quality standards. They modeled their company structure much like the symbiotic relationship of the soybean and bacteria. They have many alliances. Syngenta is one that is popular in the United States. Rizobacter sells more of Syngentas products in Argentina then they do themselves. Both companies benefit from one another. A few of the companies that Rizobacter develops technologies for us Dow, DuPont, and Monsanto.
Overall, today was exciting and informational. The group enjoyed visiting our first Argentine farm, and took lots of pictures of the Kentucky bred stallions. We watched a 3D informational video on the process of inoculation at Rizobacter, listened to a presentation given by marketing manager Lionel Thomas. After our two hour van ride to Venado Tuerto, we arrived to our hotel and walked the 10 blocks to our restaurant where we feasted on pork chops, grilled chicken, and T-bone steaks. We then ran through the pouring rain back to our hotel lobby where we proudly watched the cats beat the Stoney Brook Seawolves. Go Cats!