February 21, 2011

Conversion of Pastures to Crops Increases Soy Area of Mato Grosso

There has been an increased emphasis in recent years in Brazil to expand row crop production by utilizing degraded pasture lands instead of clearing new land. That trend has been manifested in Mato Grosso this growing season.

Approximately half of the increase in soybean acreage in Math Grosso during the 2010/11 growing season came from the conversion of pastures to soybeans. Estimates are that 98,000 hectares were converted in this manner. The other half of the increase came from replanting sandy areas that had been taken out of production over the last few years due to low prices, but the higher prices now make it worth wile to plant soybeans in those areas once again.

The conversion of pasture to soybeans could have been even greater were it not for the very high prices of cotton that stimulated a huge increase in cotton production in the state. The cotton acreage in Mato Grosso increased 251,000 hectares (60%) compared to last growing season to 671,000 hectares.

There are approximately 27,000,000 million hectares of pastures in Mato Grosso compared to 6,400,000 million hectares of soybeans (4.2 times more pasture than soybeans) and estimates are that 12% of those pasture acres (3.2 million acres) have the right soil conditions and availability of the planters and combines needed for soybean production. Other estimates have the number as high as 9 million potential acres.