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Sustainable Agriculture and Biodiversity in Brazil - Tara McClintic

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Posted: November 3, 2011

...we head into the Atlantic Rainforest to spend the night with the Nature Conservancy. The rain couldn’t keep us in; we went on a hike to one of the facilities research stations...

Wednesday March 2nd, 2011
Packing and heading out of State College was harder than I thought! It being a cold winter, I forgot what it was like to feel warm weather! We left in a Penn State van, and arrived at the Newark, NJ airport very early to wait for our over night flight.

Thursday March 3rd, 2011
We landed in Sao Paulo, Brazil around 10am, got in a van with ALL of our luggage (tight squeeze) and headed to Piracicaba. As a group we headed to a true Brazilian restaurant, where the food is served family style. We had great conversation and prepared ourselves for a week of fun! We went out for dinner and some traditional drinks. We all experienced our first ‘caipirinhas’ which is cachaça sugar and lime. 

Friday March 4th, 2011
Fun information filled day! We traveled to CTC (Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira –translation: Sugarcane Technology Center).
 
• Brazil is the number one producer of sugar cane in the world
    Use it for food, fuel, other products
    Animal feed
    Paper
    Chemical/pharmaceutical
    more than 5000 varieties
CTC-Main objective: to develop and transfer cutting-edge technology to its members.
    • The center has 182 units (farms) producing:
        – Sugar
        – Ethanol
        – Energy

    • 12,000 sugarcane growers and maintains experimental stations
    • These together account for 60% of cane processed in Brazil
    • Total of 450 million tons during the 2008-09 season.
   
• Largest germplasm sugarcane bank in the world
 
CTC carries out research in the industrial, logistics and agronomic areas. In biotechnology, CTC conducts state-of-the-art research, using a 5,000 m2 greenhouse, authorized by CTNBio and employing highly qualified, including master and PhD level, professionals.

They taught us about different sugarcane projects and production methods. Explained the sugarcane characteristics and stages of plant life, as well as, the problems, diseases, bugs…etc.
 
McClinticBrazil1.pngFriday (evening) March 4th, 2011
After CTC we headed to the University of Sao Paulo College of Agriculture. It is very similar to Penn State, originally founded on a land grant having both graduate and undergraduate admission programs. The one we visited was a lot smaller- easier to get to their classes!

Saturday March 5th, 2011
We headed off to a citrus plantation to study the differences in the orange produces in Brazil and other places- like Florida. In Brazil land is more readily available for agriculture but the rough and rugged terrain makes it difficult for maintain, for example-spraying pesticides and chemicals for pest management (which happens to be a huge problem in Brazil). As well as bugs and critters there is a disease called ‘greening’ and if one leaf on the tree the entire tree is cut down and often the entire block on the trees around it. The process of the tree cutting down is rather ‘green’ the problem tree is burned, the ashes used for soil replenishment. The others are sold to local lumbar yards, because the disease only will effect the fruit production not the quality of the wood. 

After we returned back to Piracicaba, we headed to a churrascaria! A place like meat heaven. After a fantastic dinner it was time to celebrate CARNAVAL!
Carnaval is an annual celebration, which all Brazilians participate, taking off work, enjoying food family and drinks. We had beers and danced in the streets, they had pounds of confetti and fun filled activities for all ages! It was an amazing experience.
 
Sunday March 6th, 2011
Our free day! Which we spent by the pool and catching up with family. We spent more time enjoying Carnaval and the nightlife in Brazil.

Monday March 7th, 2011
We boarded an early plane from Piracicaba to Curitiba for the remainder of our trip. The airports in Brazil are very different than the ones in the United States. The security is not a strict and the airports are almost laid back. We went for a tour of the city and learned that it has been named the ‘greenest’ city in Brazil and is known for it worldwide. It has 26 inner city parks open to the public. And although there is violence I never felt unsafe.

FAT Tuesday March 8th, 2011
On this beautiful day we spent our time at the university eating traditional foods and listening to music with people from the area. Even though there was a bit of a language barrier I enjoyed the company of all.

McClinticBrazil2.pngWednesday March 9th, 2011
We headed to an island off the pacific coast of Brazil. Ilha do Mel was a heavenly island where we spend the entire day on the beach and hiking to see the lighthouse tower.
 
Thursday March 10th, 2011
Today we head into the Atlantic Rainforest to spend the night with the Nature Conservancy. The rain couldn’t keep us in; we went on a hike to some of the facilities research station. There are about 40,000 acres of the forest dedicated for research. The Nature Conservancy and SPUS mainly focus on long term effects of carbon emissions on the trees, there goal is to preserve the forest and the biodiversity in Brazil. We went on tours to see how the data is collected and each of the factors involved in the processes.

Today only about 7% of the Atlantic Forest remains from years of deforestation, agricultural purposes and human growth. We participated in the movement to rebuild by planting trees, moving seedlings and picking fresh seeds. I found a snail the size of my hand!

Friday March 11th, 2011
It felt amazing waking up in the Atlantic Forest at the innocence to the nature.
We headed to the Entomology Department at the university in Curitiba. We were given a tour of the wing and saw hundreds of different bugs! I had no idea there were so many different species of bees and ants! 
 
Saturday March 12th –Sunday March 13th, 2011
Took a plane back to Sao Paulo and waited in the airport for our overnight flight back to Newark and then a bus ride home to State College!