Brazil is a recognized world leader in sustainable agricultural practices. To reach that level of responsible farming, the entire system is based on the following pillars: productivity, innovation, technology, regeneration, and restoration of degraded pastures, as well as integrated agriculture practices and policies throughout the country.
Although Brazil is a vast country – almost twice as big as the European Union – it only uses 3 out of every 10 hectares for agricultural and livestock production. The goal of reducing deforestation in the Cerrado biome, for example, was far reached from the voluntary target of 40% to 53.2% in 2020.
There are several practices that make our agriculture environmentally friendly. Today, we present three of them:
Continued productivity growth
Brazil’s science-based tropical agriculture and animal production systems are responsible for the country’s capacity to produce a large volume of food on a small percentage of cropland. Agriculture needs to expand and, in order to do that, Brazilian farmers are focused on the restoration and conversion of degraded pastures and on extending the use of integrated crop-livestock-forestation systems.
Second crop: higher production without increasing planted area
Brazil’s tropical climate allows the production of two-grain harvests per year in the same field, so 28% of the area planted with grains and beans supports this amount of productivity. Farmers can do that also due to no-till practices and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which preserve the soil and minimize fertilizer input.
Technology has an important role in that achievement as well. Brazil’s agronomic institutes IAC and Embrapa have developed varieties of soy, maize, and cotton that are adapted to specific conditions of latitude, climate, and soil in different Brazilian regions.
These crops address issues of low fertility, drought, pest attacks and improve the nutritional and functional quality of food.
Policies that protect native vegetation
Brazil has probably the strictest environmental protection laws and practices for farming in the world. The Forest Code requires all farmers to preserve at least one-fifth of their land as native vegetation. In the Cerrado, the requirement is increased to 35%. In the Amazon biome, it reaches 80%. Thus, 26.7% of Brazil’s territory is covered in preserved native vegetation within rural private properties.
Steep slopes and zones on the margins of rivers and streams are classified as “areas of permanent protection.” With this sophisticated and restrictive legislation, Brazil has become an agricultural success story by sustainably managing the expansion of agriculture.