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9.2.4: 4 Conservation Agriculture in Brazil Case Study

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    Activate Your Learning

    Go to the FAO UN website and read their brief description of Conservation Agriculture. Then watch the short video “Conservation Agriculture in Southern Brazil” (4:41).

    Click here for transcript of the Conservation Agriculture in Southern Brazil video.

    PRESENTER: In Santa Catarina and Piranha, southern Brazil, severe soil degradation over the past two decades left many farmers with no choice-- find a solution or abandon the land. Roland Ristow began experimenting with no-tillage farming more than 20 years ago. He is considered a pioneer of conservation agriculture.


    INTERPRETER: Before starting conservation agriculture, there was a lot of work to do-- plowing harrowing, tilling. And then erosion would carry off all the water. If we hadn't changed over, all these would be desert now, and there would be no crops, just stones.

    PRESENTER: Cover crops are the key. Grown between annual crops, they protect the soil from the damaging effects of heavy rainfall, sun, and wind, provide nutrients, and facilitate water infiltration by reducing soil compaction. By integrating livestock production, Francisco Sedosvki saves money on feed and effectively lets the cows prepare the land for direct seeding of his next crop.

    His integrated approach to resource management, which includes pig raising and fish farming, actually improves the quality of the local water supply. This farm is a model of environmentally-friendly recycling.


    INTERPRETER: We don't have to worry now because we have clean water on our farm. There's no animal waste in our stream. The situation has really improved. We can raise pigs without damaging the environment.

    PRESENTER: Direct seeding makes conservation agriculture considerably less labor-intensive than conventional farming and more cost-effective. The elimination of tillage reduces machinery and fuel costs, while cover crops reduce the need for expensive chemical inputs. And even in dry years, yields increase as soil quality and water infiltration improves.


    INTERPRETER: With conservation agriculture, you save money and you can produce more. I don't know the exact figures, but I think that our production has increased by about 30% or 40%.

    PRESENTER: Time saved with conservation agriculture is used by farmers to diversify production and supplement their income. Products like sugar and jam can be sold all year round to ensure financial security for small-scale farmers. In southern Brazil, conservation agriculture has made sustainability a reality, and the Food and Agriculture Organization is already promoting the same approach in Africa and Central Asia.


    INTERPRETER: I think that conservation agriculture really could solve a food security problem, and it could also be a valuable weapon in the fight against poverty.

    PRESENTER: For many families in southern Brazil, that fight has already been won by making the most of natural resources and letting nature take its course.

    After Watching the Video, Answer the Following Three Questions:

    Question 1 - Short answer

    Describe the soil and crop management practices that the video about Conservation Agriculture describes that promote soil quality and crop productivity.

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    i. No-till farming, ii. Cover crops that protect the soil from erosion, provide nutrients, and reduce soil compaction, iii. Integrating livestock and crop production.

    Question 2 - Short answer

    In Brazil, what were some of the ecological benefits of conservation agriculture?

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    i. Soil is protected and conserved, ii. Soil quality has improved, iii. Cover crop roots reduce soil compaction and improve water infiltration into the soil, iii. Integrating livestock and crop production helps recycle nutrients, and with fish-farming, there is less animal waste in the stream.

    Question 3 - Short answer

    In Brazil, what were some of the socio-economic benefits of conservation agriculture?

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    i. No-till or direct-seeding saves labor and time to plant crops, reduces machinery needs and saves money, ii. With reduced tillage and cover crops, farmers need fewer inputs, have saved money, and production has increased, iii. Time saved has allowed farmers to diversify production and produce added-value products.

    This page titled 9.2.4: 4 Conservation Agriculture in Brazil Case Study is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Heather Karsten & Steven Vanek (John A. Dutton: e-Education Institute) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.