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Ferreira & Souza Aeroagrícola: Father and Son Reunited by Their Love of Aviation

Someone arriving at Fazenda Mário Ferreira might think he or she was suddenly transported to somewhere in Iowa or Kansas. It doesn’t look like a typical Brazilian farm, situated around crop-covered gentle hills with grain elevators visible in the distance, with an asphalt road well into the impeccably clean farming facilities and manicured lawns. It is only when Mário Ferreira de Souza activates the hangar power door from his cellphone to reveal two immaculate EMB-202 Ipanemas inside that you confirm you’re still in Brazil – in Boa Esperança, state of Paraná, to be exact.

Mário Ferreira de Souza comes from a farming family from Primeiro de Maio, a city in Paraná right next to the border of the state of São Paulo. Mário’s family had no farm and used to rent land to grow their crops. Mário worked hard to buy his own land, where he now grows soybean, corn, and wheat. All the while, he was falling in love with flying. Initially, he co-owned an ultralight aircraft with an uncle, but he soon moved on to “real” airplanes, buying a Piper PA-18 in 1992, even before he finished his private pilot course at the Aeroclube de Campo Mourão.

Mário is actually fond of dealing with aircraft, having bought and sold 16 aircraft so far. He bought his first Ipanema, an EMB-201A, in 1999, and in 2000, he started an ag operation called Aviação Agrícola Boa Esperança Ltda. With a nephew who is an ag pilot as a partner.

As Mário’s son João Paulo Ferreira de Souza grew up, Márioi expected him to follow his steps and help him in the ag aviation business, but João Paulo had other interests.  He wanted to get a degree in computer science, so he went to college. This caused an estrangement between father and son, but fortunately, it didn’t last long; after six months, João Paulo changed his mind and went to the Aeroclube de Londrina for his private pilot course, which he started in 2010 and finished in 2011. On good terms with his son, Mário bought a Cessna 140 for João Paulo to build time for his commercial pilot license and ag school. Mário says this is the cheapest way to obtain the required flight experience, as the airplane holds its value when you sell it. With an airplane at his disposal, João Paulo built his hours very quickly, and in 2012 he took his ag school course at the Aeroclube de Ponta Grossa.

In 2013, Mário’s nephew and partner in Aviação Agrícola Boa Esperança decided to go his own way, so Mário and João Paulo started a new company, Ferreira & Souza Aeroagrícola Ltda. It is based on Fazenda Mário Ferreira and operates out of a 700-meter private grass strip (SNYY). Like all the facilities and equipment on the farm, its airplanes, loading area, and hangar are kept spotlessly clean.

Until 2016, Mário took care of the farm and the administrative chores of the ag operation while João Paulo flew. Whenever things got too busy, one of Mário’s two nephews, who are ag pilots, would come to help. That year, Mário got his aerial applicator license at the Aeroclube de Ibitinga ag school, becoming one of Brazil’s few private pilots with an ag rating. Not holding a commercial license, Mário can only spray his own crops, but as he fondly says, he sprays “100% of them”.

As Mário enjoys trading planes, Ferreira & Souza has had several different ag planes, including an older model EMB-201 Ipanema, a Piper Pawnee 260, and an Air Tractor AT-402A they operated for two years.

However, in 2016 and 2017, many Ferreira & Souza customers in Boa Esperança bought large ground rigs, reducing the demand for aerial applications. Mário and João Paulo had to look for other clients to keep their operation flying and found them in Naviraí, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, about 150 miles northwest of Boa Esperança. Mário and João Paulo built a base with a hangar and a strip in a farm that belongs to their largest customer. Like in Boa Esperança, most of their customers are neighboring farms, so they fly out of only three satellite strips in addition to the base strip.

Today, Ferreira & Souza operates two EMB-202 Ipanemas with Zanoni spray equipment, Travicar GPS units, and flowmeters. They use rotary atomizers to spray insecticides and fungicides at 1.2 and 1.25 GPA – the 0.05 “extra” GPA being for easier figures when spraying fields in “requires,” an ancient area measure roughly equivalent to 5.93 acres that are still used in the state of Paraná. Ferreira & Souza does not spray herbicides. About 70% of their work is in Naviraí, with the remaining 30% around their home base in Boa Esperança. Crops sprayed are mostly soybeans and corn, about evenly divided, except for a little wheat and sugarcane.

Once split over João Paulo’s professional plans, today, father and son work very closely together, planning the future of Ferreira & Souza Aeroagrícola. They were recently joined by Maurivan Oliveira, a former loader who obtained his private and commercial licenses in the Aeroclube de Toledo. He then saved for three years to pay for ag school, which he attended in 2015 in the Aeroclube de Ponta Grossa. He then flew a difficult season in the state of Pará (in the Brazilian Amazon) before finding a seat in an operation in the state of São Paulo, where he flew for six years and got to fly an Air Tractor AT-402A. Maurivan will operate mostly in Naviraí, where he will be close to his family.

With such a well organized operation, Mário flying his own crops and João Paulo and Maurivan flying full-time for the other customers, their expansion plans for Ferreira & Souza Aeroagrícola will certainly succeed.





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