Apr 29, 2024

Degraded Pastures Being Converted to Crop Production in Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Brazil has approximately 28 million hectares (70 million acres) of degraded pastures that could be converted to crop production, reforestation, or increased livestock production according to Embrapa. Most of the new crop acreage in Brazil is the result of this conversion.

The cerrado biome in central Brazil has the largest area of degraded pastures. The state of Mato Grosso has the most at 5.1 million hectares followed by Goias at 4.7 million, Mato Grosso do Sul at 4.3 million, Minas Gerais at 4.0 million and Para at 2.1 million. If all these areas were converted to crop production (soybeans, corn, wheat, rice, dry beans, and cotton), it would increase Brazil's total planted crop area by 35%.

To facilitate this conversion, the federal government last year created the National Program for the Conversion of Degraded Pastures to Sustainable Agriculture, Livestock, and Forestry Production. As part of this program, Embrapa has published a book outlining 30 suggestions for local political and civic leaders as well as the agricultural community.

Converting these areas will require planning for available credit for producers, capital investments for infrastructure, and technical assistance for producers. Rural producers will need education and technical assistance to ensure the conversion is profitable and sustainable.

Brazil has a total of approximately 160 million hectares of pasture (395 million acres) with 50 million hectares of natural pastures (123.5 million acres) and the rest planted pastures. Grain production in Brazil occupies 78.5 million hectares (193.8 million acres) and forest plantations occupy 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres).