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December 30, 2019

Brazilian Farmers Planting Pasture Grass with Safrinha Corn

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

Farmers in five northern states in Brazil may now utilize a crop rotation system known as Intergraded Crop-Livestock (ILP). This is a system in which a pasture grass is planted simultaneously along with the safrinha corn, which is generally planted after the first crop of soybeans are harvested. The ILP cropping system is being promoted by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture as part of its push for more sustainable agriculture.

The five northern states are Acre, Para, Maranhao, Tocantins, and Piaui and they join seven other states in Brazil that already endorse the practice. This is part of a program called Agriculture Risk Zoning (Zarc) that Brazilian farmers must adhere to if they want to qualify for government credit programs and other government programs. The Zarc program determins the level of risk for a certain agricultural practices based on the region, planting date, climate, soil type, etc.

The Intergraded Crop-Livestock cropping system has many advantages including:

  • Providing pasture for cattle grazing during the dry season.
  • It acts as a cover crop to minimize soil erosion.
  • It helps to control weeds and invasive species.
  • It increases organic matter in the soil.
  • It allows for no-till planting of the next summer crop.

In addition to agronomic advantages, the system can play a central role in more sustainable agriculture by encouraging greater production of grain and meat on a smaller area. It also reduces the cost of production, helps to maintain soil structure and productivity, provides more income and economic development, and it generates additional employment. The cover crop also helps to sequester carbon in the soil, which is part of Brazil's overall effort to control greenhouse gases.