Getting out of your crop comfort zone

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Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” That spirit of curiosity brought together over 60 participants for this year’s Alltech Crop Science (ACS) farm tour, which took place in southwest Texas just prior to ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference. The group toured a variety of crops, from watermelons to cotton and from onions to peaches. 
 

Tradition meets innovation

 
Dixondale Farms, the group’s first stop, has spent the last 104 years planting, harvesting and packing their onions and, more recently, cantaloupes by hand for use throughout Texas. Their transplant onion business has expanded into being available throughout the country in a growing mail order market.
 
 “It was interesting to learn how they took the innovative opportunity of divesting from only corporate farms to selling to even the home grower market,” said Marcos De Giacomo from Qualicilo, a consultancy and agricultural dealership company in Brazil, who is participating in his third ACS tour. 
 

An exchange of ideas between global experts

 
One of the most rewarding aspects of the annual tour is the opportunity that participants have to exchange ideas not only with each other, but with the growers they visit. They often find that they are dealing with the same issues and the same diseases despite living half a world away. 
 
They share ideas on how to fight issues such as Fusarium mycotoxins. Conversations arise about the different food safety regulations and residue requirements in each country. They trade perspectives on how to meet and exceed the expectations set by different countries and by consumers.
 
“We always have to be striving to make ourselves and our businesses better, and we can’t do that without seeing what’s out there and what other people are doing,” said De Giacomo. “These farms we visited and the people we’ve met, they take on the role of teachers, and hopefully we’ve taught them something, too.”   
 

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