Sustainable use of water and soil in Brazilian livestock production


Livestock production plays a crucial role in the Brazilian economy, as one of the main pillars of its agribusiness sector. However, this activity faces significant challenges related to sustainability, especially regarding the conscious use of water and soil. Some practices and strategies Brazilian producers implement enable the sustainable use of these natural resources in livestock production.

Sustainable use of water in livestock:

Brazil has a rich diversity of water resources, but its availability is unevenly spread throughout the territory. Therefore, adopting practices that ensure this resource’s efficient and responsible use in livestock production is crucial. The São Francisco and Parnaíba Valleys Development Company (CODEVASF) has played a key role in researching and developing technologies for sustainable water management in Brazilian agriculture. This includes more efficient irrigation systems, pasture management techniques that promote water retention in the soil, and reusing livestock effluents for agricultural ends.

Sustainable soil management in livestock:

Soil is an essential resource for livestock production, providing physical support, water, and nutrients for forage plants. However, inadequate management practices can lead to soil degradation, losing fertility, and causing erosion and desertification. The Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA) has developed research and guidance to promote sustainable soil management in Brazilian livestock farming. This includes using agroforestry systems, Integrated Crop-Livestock-Forestry Systems (ICLFS), crop rotation, and soil conservation techniques such as no-till farming and vegetation coverage.

Water-soil interaction in sustainable livestock production:

The interaction between water and soil plays a critical role in livestock production sustainability. Practices that promote soil conservation also aid in improving water absorption, especially by reducing erosion. Moreover, proper soil water management can increase pasture availability during droughts, relieving pressure on surface water resources. Implementing integrated systems, such as ICLFS, has proved effective in fostering the sustainability of both soil and water in Brazilian livestock production.

The sustainable use of water and soil in livestock production is essential to ensure this sector’s economic, social, and environmental viability in Brazil. However, producers, the government, and society in general must continue to cooperate to promote the widespread use of these practices to ensure a sustainable future for livestock production in the country.

Luana Frossard Gomes de Aguiar is the Project Operationalization Coordinator at Brazil’s National Rural Learning Service (SENAR)