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Global Ag View: Brazil looks at simple, sustainable innovation

The country was using integrated crop-livestock-forestry systems to boost its sustainability credentials.


Alex   Black

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Alex   Black
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Brazil looks at simple, sustainable innovation

Simple innovations were helping the world’s biggest net exporter become more sustainable with the growth of integrated crop-livestock-forestry (ICLF) and no-till systems across Brazil.

 

The country was also looking to tackle the rate of illegal deforestation, with strict environmental legislation in its Forest Code and its Rural Environmental Register, the electronic register which monitors and polices implementation of the code.

 

Forest

 

Marcelo Vieira, president at Sociedade Rural Brasileira (SRB), highlighted the Forest Code had ensured 66 per cent of the country was covered by native vegetation.


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“While recent figures show the rate of illegal deforestation increased last year, tackling illegal deforestation is an ongoing and complex challenge and a key strategic priority,” he said.

 

Other innovations included ICLF systems and no-till.

 

Mr Vieira said: “No-tillage farming follows the logic of forests, where organic material fallen from trees becomes a rich natural fertiliser.

 

“In no-till farming, decomposed straw from previous crops contributes to soil nutrition, reducing the use of chemical inputs and water consumption, minimising erosion and increasing soil fertility.”

 

He added the principle of ICLF was quite simple.

 

Trees were planted in regular rows, with space for farm machinery to pass.

 

Farmers can plant no-till soy in October or November, to be harvested at the beginning of the following year, then plant corn and pasture.

 

Grazing

 

In May or June the corn is harvested and the underlying pasture allowed to grow, with cattle grazed until the next crop planting season.

 

The trees are selectively harvested for timber in phases and replanted, which also offset the carbon footprint of the cattle.

 

The benefits of this included good animal welfare and reusing degraded pasture land.

 

“The no-till cultivation of crops such as soy further enhances soil stabilisation and quality by effectively fixing nitrates in the soil," added Mr Vieira.

 

Land utilisation and efficiency is boosted by allowing four production cycles on the land.

 

“With initiatives such as ICLF, no-till agriculture and tackling illegal deforestation, Brazil has been working hard to strengthen the sustainability of its agriculture.”

 

Mr Vieira added Brazil was recently singled out ahead of the recent COP24 climate summit in Poland as one of the few countries on track to meet climate commitments made at Paris.

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