(Photo: Rodolfo Rossi in the SAA summit in Buenos Aires)

Buenos Aires, September 10th.  Rodolfo Rossi is one of the most famous soybean breeders in Argentina. He was the “father” of the introduction of the Roundup Ready soybean in the country when he bred the first cultivars in the middle ’90 for the Nidera seed company.

He also played a relevant institutional role as chairman of Acsoja, the value-chain organization for the crop in the country. Now, as a senior consultant of large seed companies in the Argentina, he assisted to the Seed Association of Americas (SAA) congress, in Buenos Aires city.

There, he talked with eFarmNewsAr.com about the potential of the country as a soybean producer. “During last years the soybean acreage was down to, basically, due to the high export-tax applied on it in comparison with other crops, like corn, and to the environmental responsibility of farmers to increase the crop rotation with grasses, corn and double cropping wheat/soybean”, he commented.

Effectively, after reaching a peak of 20.5 million hectares in the 2014/15 campaign, the soybean acreage downed to 17 million in the last season 2018/19. The production is stagnant between 50 and 60 million metric tons. Last campaign, yield achieved 3,280 kilograms per hectare, a yield that partially offset the minor acreage and that permitted to achieve a 56 million metric tons national production.

But, how much soybean could Argentina produce in the coming years? “According with the Agriculture Research National Institute (INTA) it is possible enlarge the farming acreage in 10 million hectares until 2030. Sixty percent of this acreage would place in sub-marginal areas like the northwest of the country and the Mesopotamia (Corrientes, Entre Rios and Misiones provinces). I think that soybean could occupy four or five million hectares of this new areas, expanding the acreage to 22 or 23 million hectares. I also think that yields will continue increasing, stabilizing them with a floor of 3,200 to 3,300 kilograms per hectare. Thus, a national output of 72 million metric tons is a reachable horizon, versus the currently 60 million metric tons potential”, Rossi explained.

The other question is why the soybean crops is so vulnerable to the droughts?, eFarmNewsAr asked Mr. Rossi. “Well, is a truth that in the last 15 years we suffered three droughts that sever affected the soybean production. On the one hand, we came from several years of “monocultivo” (soybean planted after soybean) and this leaved the crop in a most fragile condition in front a drought. On the other hand, soybean is spread into 17 million hectares, much of them in marginal zones, where it is too much difficult to assure the yielding stability. Corn occupy 6 million hectares mostly concentrated in a small region, between Cordoba and north of the Buenos Aires province. But, there is another factor: farmers use high technology in corn; when they decide to plant corn they assure themselves that the crop is well fertilized and the seed is well treated. Instead of this, soybean is planted with low phosphorus doses and not always well inoculated. Furthermore, there is only four research centers for the soybean, to cover 17 million hectares, much less than in Brazil”, Rossi added.

Mr. Rossi thinks that it is possible to expand the soybean area without promote the deforestation because there are many cattle fields and sub-marginal areas where the crop could be planted.