Extension services can promote pasture restoration, shows Brazilian research


A Brazilian study on sustainable growth in the livestock sector is featured in the Journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Published in March, the paper provides evidence that extension services can promote pasture restoration in cattle ranching in Brazil.

Read the full article here: https://bit.ly/3M7btK5

Increasing producers’ productivity and income, as well as applying environmental preservation practices that show effective results in reducing pollutant emissions, is the goal of every country committed to tackling climate change. In Brazil, this reality arrived through the ABC Cerrado Program, which is described in the study co-authored by the project coordinator at SENAR, Cristiane Camboim, and the researcher and professor at FGV, Diego de Faveri.

The program was carried out between 2014 and 2019 by SENAR, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply (MAPA) and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), with funding from the World Bank. It had a view to mitigating greenhouse gases through introducing good agricultural practices in livestock production systems.

The results showed an improvement in the environmental performance of the farms served by the Project, reflecting the producers’ efforts to adapt their production processes and adopt low-carbon technologies recommended in the Technical Training and Technical and Management Assistance (ATeG).

Thus, the farms improved the quality of cattle and pasture management: There were a decrease of 9,757 animals and an increase of 6,804 hectares of pastures in good conditions, achieved through the replacement of native pastures and the recovery of degraded ones.

Data analysis showed that while farms in the control group (with no ATeG intervention) emitted +5.6 tCO2e/ha/year, farms in the ATeG group sequestered -2.3 tCO2e/ha/year. Trained producers and producers using ATeG adopt 11x more ABC technologies, such as the Recovery of Degraded Pastures.

“We found that providing technical assistance to previously trained producers promoted pasture restoration, induced farmers to use more inputs, helped them improve their practices, and increased productivity and carbon sequestration,” Camboim points out. She also says that these findings highlight the importance of providing customized information to ranchers to ensure assimilation and adoption of new concepts to promote sustainable intensification.

The research was carried out through a randomized controlled trial (RCT), implemented in the context of the ABC Cerrado Program. Launched in 2014, it was designed to shed light on the best-suited approaches to addressing technological and management knowledge gaps on low-carbon practices and their long-term productive value.

The paper shows that it has promoted pasture restoration, induced farmers to use inputs more intensively, helped them to improve their management and soil conservation practices, and substantially increased revenues. A cost-benefit calculation indicates that each US$ 1 invested in the ABC Cerrado Program increased profits by US$ 1.08 to $ 1.45.  Incorporating the carbon economy considerably amplifies this return. The Integrated Crop Livestock Forestry (ILPF) systems can generate real profit: up to US$ 3.70 for each US$ 1 invested in production.

Through the impact assessment carried out in the project, SENAR has proven that producers who received training associated with technical and managerial assistance increased the agricultural area with low-carbon technologies. During the entire program, 93 thousand hectares of pasture were recovered, and 7.8 thousand producers benefited from the training.

“It is a response to the international community on the challenges of sustainability issues. An article like this communicates the outstanding work carried out by SENAR,” says Cristiane Camboim. “We show the world that Brazilian agriculture is sustainable,” she adds.