Monday morning we were up bright and early to visit our first farm. This was the day that I learned that not only were these farms that we were visiting, but they were research facilities as well. INIA is a national agricultural research institution that focuses on the betterment of farm management and production.
On the first farm we got the chance to see a robot that is used to milk the cows and to learn about the process leading up to slaughtering. I also learned that soybean is one of Uruguay’s major crops and they export about 60 % of their production. We also observed some feeding experiments taking place with the cattle as well. Later that day we visited the old city of Colonia.
The next day we visited the Los Tilos farm which is a family run angus farm. Here we were able to get hands on experience with some of the research by giving body condition scores to the cattle and measuring the grass quality. I also learned that silvopastures are common in Uruguay, which is the combination of forest and pasture so that the cattle can have natural shade. At the end of the day we went to the family home and enjoyed a great dinner.
My favorite farm visit was at El Paraiso. This was also another family farm. First we visited the rice fields and learned about the importance of irrigation. Then we visited the Olimar River which flows through south Uruguay. We returned to the farm and had the chance to ride the horses that were there. We ended the night with an amazing lamb dinner cooked by our hosts. This was an experience I’ll never forget.
The next day, we learned about the importance of crop rotation in rice farms. We then visited a rice mill where the hull of the rice is removed to make white rice or brown rice, packaged, and exported.