Every time the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council hosts a See For Yourself mission, it is our hope and intention that our Minnesota soybean farmers walk away with a better understanding of how their checkoff dollars work on their behalf.
This week we are in Chile with a group of Minnesota soybean farmers to learn more about how Minnesota and North Dakota soybean breeders utilize Chile as winter nurseries to speed up the plant breeding process.
The first day we took a look at Dr. Ted Helms’ North Dakota State University research facility. He’s mainly working with Roundup Ready 1 varieties. Then we went to Dr. Jim Orf’s University of Minnesota facility just outside of Santiago. He’s much more extensive with his research from Roundup Ready 1 and Roundup Ready 2, to food grade soybeans, high oleic and so on. Orf’s setup in Chile is very impressive and he has a very nice facility and gives an interesting presentation.
We toured a 5,000 head dairy recently, which is really interesting because it has a New Zealand flavor to it. That’s because they get some breeding stock from there. They call it the New Zealand plan for successful dairies and they use all grazing and pasture and natural means for things. They have very little disease they claim.
Dairy operations are popular near Puerto Montt, where we have spent a lot of time lately. It’s a very pretty country down here. Most people would have went to Santiago and stopped there, but I don’t think they get the full flavor of Chile without getting out to the countryside. Chile is quite a country from top to bottom.
I think it is also important to note that we’ve toured some salmon facilities here, as well. Salmon and copper are the two major exports from Chile and of course, the salmon do eat some soybean product. This has been a well-rounded mission for all of our participating soybean farmers. We still have a little left to go for this mission, and then we’ll be back stateside.
I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about the soybean checkoff to sign up for one of our See For Yourself missions. We can tell you till we’re blue in the face about all the things the soybean checkoff does for Minnesota soybean farmers, but sometimes it is just easier to see for yourself.