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The wheat value chain meets in Mar del Plata

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The wheat value chain meets in Mar del Plata

Organized by the Federation of Grain Collectors, the 12th All Wheat Congress (ATT) will be held in Mar del Plata on May 9 and 10.

“We need a new production epic,” says Daniel Miralles, the technical coordinator of the congress that has brought together the entire winter cereal chain for 20 years and will take place at the Sheraton Hotel in the spa city.

For the teacher and researcher from Fauba and Conicet, the upcoming campaign renews expectations and the congress seeks to provide the necessary tools to take advantage of all the opportunities.

“Today we have an advantage: in most of the country’s wheat areas we are starting from a very different water situation than last year. Water in sowing explains between 50% and 80% of crop success. If we continue the way we started, we have the opportunity to achieve record returns and high profitability because of this,” she enthuses.

Themes

More than 60 specialists will address all significant topics for the chain in three simultaneous rooms. Among them, the new horizons of wheat production and the understanding of demands.

“The environment has an increasingly greater weight in production systems,” emphasizes Miralles and highlights that, due to its no-till production system, Argentina has some advantages in terms of carbon footprint. The topic “decarbonization” will have a leading space on the agenda, as will intensification: how to introduce a greater quantity of crops in less time without degrading the soil.

Investment in research to improve the crop is an aspect that Gustavo Slafer (Icrea from Spain) will address. And local specialists will address everything inherent to crop management depending on each environment.

Another exciting chapter will be the growing debate between chemical versus biological fertilizers. Increasingly, biological fertilizers are playing a very important role, but chemical ones are very difficult to replace in the short term.

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“Biologicals still do not have the same impact on yield and crop quality that chemicals could have. But there is more and more research and development to generate greater combinations of biological fertilizers with other chemicals in very small doses, such as micronutrients. These exacerbate biological fertilizers and, in turn, improve the solubilization of chemical fertilizers in the soil. “All that combo makes us have better responses,” he remarks.

In the weeds, pests and diseases block, specialists will give a detailed overview of the new products that appeared on the market; the optimal moments of control; resistant weeds and diseases; the most relevant pests and how to manage them with genetic tolerance. This segment closes with the dissertation by Diego Ferraro (Fauba and Conicet), who will talk about risk models for the use of agrochemicals aimed at quantifying the toxicity of each rotation scheme.

But ATT is much more than wheat. There is also a prominent place for barley and alternative winter crops such as durum wheat, rapeseed and carinata. These last two oilseeds have shown a lot of potential: rapeseed, from which a very high quality oil used in the gourmet world is extracted, and carinata, which allows the production of biofuels for airplanes (biojet).

“Increasingly, systems have moved from being governed by qualitative decisions to quantitative decisions. How many kilos do I need to plant? How much fertilizer do I need to apply? “How much is my nitrogen in the soil?” Miralles points out. Agriculture is evolving and this paradigm shift is very much related to data technology. For this reason, ATT will have a relevant space for new trends in digital matters, agtech and developments in planting and harvesting machinery.

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20 years after the first ATT, Miralles reflects on the changes in wheat cultivation and believes that the main evolution has to do with knowledge. Now, how much further to go? For this renowned researcher, one of the biggest challenges is self-sufficiency of fertilizers, mainly nitrogenous ones. “Currently, 50% of the fertilizer used on wheat is imported. We need to develop Vaca Muerta to double urea production in Argentina and achieve self-sufficiency,” he emphasizes.

The other pending matter involves a legal framework that provides predictability to develop and open new markets. “Countries demand wheat, there is no doubt, the issue is to find who can buy the cereal from us and be competitive in world markets. For that we must move forward in the reduction or elimination of withholdings, which are an export tax that makes no sense,” he concludes.

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