The commitment to sustainability is a key asset of Brazilian agriculture and cattle raising. A survey carried out in 2020 and released by the ILPF Network Association shows that Mato Grosso do Sul is the Brazilian state with the largest area dedicated to integrated systems in agricultural and livestock production. There are more than 3.1 million hectares with Integrated Crop-Livestock-Forest (ILPF) in different configurations, combining two or three crop components in the productive system.
The survey estimates that more than 17.43 million hectares are used with integrated production systems in agriculture and cattle raising in Brazil. Mato Grosso has the second largest area, with 2.281 million hectares, followed by Rio Grande do Sul, with 2.216 million.
Such integrated systems optimize land use by increasing productivity levels. Their benefits include environmental, social, and economic improvements, such as soil conservation; increased biodiversity; Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions mitigation; and animal welfare. They also bring income diversification for small, medium, and large producers, greater efficiency in natural resources use, and reduced input costs generating economic growth.
“The crop-livestock-forest integration is a combination of different crops that brings benefits to farming and the rural landowners, besides diversifying the sources of income. It also follows the ESG guidelines that strengthen the business sustainability,” says Famasul System’s technical manager, José Pádua, explaining that using these systems means the commitment of rural producers to sustainability.
Focus on sustainability
The Agroforestry Systems and the Crop-Livestock-Forestry Integration are part of the ABC Program—the Sectoral Plan for the Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change for the Consolidation of a Low Carbon Emission Economy in Agriculture—to comply with the agreement signed in 2009 at the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen.
One of the goals of the ABC Program’s first cycle (between 2010 and 2020) was to increase by 4 million hectares the areas used with integrated production systems. According to figures from the ILPF Network, in the first five years, the addition of 5.96 million hectares accounted for the sequestration of 21.8 million tons of CO₂, surpassing the goal in less than half the deadline.
With the expansion of integrated production systems technology, estimates show that Brazil had an increase of approximately 52% of areas with ILPF between the 2015-2016 crop year and 2020-2021.
Aiming to deepen the preservation and sustainability actions, in 2021 the Federal Government launched the ABC+ Strategic Plan, with a strategic view for a new cycle (2020-2030). Among the conceptual bases for facing the adverse impacts of climate change are the Integrated Landscape Approach (AIP); the combination of adaptation and mitigation strategies; and encouraging the adoption and maintenance of sustainable systems, practices, products, and production processes.
ABC Cerrado Program
As one of the ABC Plan’s preservation tools, the ABC Cerrado Program was created from a partnership involving the National Rural Learning Service (SENAR), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA), and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA).
The ABC Cerrado relied on the Technical and Managerial Assistance methodology, carried out by SENAR with resources from the World Bank. In SENAR/MS, the activities started in August 2016 and ended in April 2019. During this period, 265 rural properties were tended by 20 field technicians.
The results showed an improvement in the environmental performance of the farms served by the Project, reflecting the producers’ efforts to adapt their 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.