One of the most important issues for Brazil is how it will continue to meet the increasing demand for food while protecting its natural resources. Understanding which modern technologies and farming practices increase productivity without pressuring forests is key to resolve this tension. Nevertheless, the absence of up-todate information on the use of inputs and technologies at disaggregated levels has severely limited knowledge about how farming practices have evolved and what their relationship is with productivity and deforestation.
This new report from INPUT researchers at Climate Policy Initiative / Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (CPI/ PUC-Rio) aims to fill this gap. It leverages recently released municipality-level information from Brazil’s 2017 Agricultural Census to describe the evolution of three agricultural practices typically connected with processes of agricultural intensification: direct planting system (DPS, a modern soil conservation technique also known as direct seeding), tractors, and fertilizers.
Findings reveal a diverse pattern among farmers’ use of the technologies throughout the country. While direct seeding remains concentrated in crop producing municipalities, its use is becoming more widespread throughout the country. The use of tractors has more become concentrated throughout the country. Finally, while fertilizer use has has dispersed throughout the county, its spatial concentration is neither increasing nor decreasing.
While the three technologies analyzed in this report are connected with processes of agricultural intensification, their determinants and subsequent environmental consequences vary. This report provides an initial look at the important questions surrounding the evolution of agricultural practices in Brazil and provides a better understanding of what might be needed to better tailor policies to promote sustainable growth in the country’s agricultural sector.