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June 12, 2017

In 25 Years Brazil has evolved into a Major Agricultural Producer

Over the past 25 years, Brazil has grown from just another agricultural producing country to the main agricultural competitor of the United States. During the 25 year period from 1990 to 2014, the acreage of Brazil's three main crops, soybeans, corn, and sugarcane has increased 106.8% with production of those three crops increasing 197.4%.

This information is from a recently released study conducted by Embrapa Environment and the Brazilian National Space Research Institute (Inpe). The study was presented at the XVIII Brazilian Symposium of Remote Sensing (SBSR). The data concerning the harvested acreage and productivity was provided by IBGE for the years 1990 to 2014.

The increase in production over the increase in acreage is largely being attributed to the increase in safrinha acreage over the period studied. A second crop of corn planted after the first crop of soybeans are harvested now accounts for two thirds of Brazil's total corn production. There have also been increases in safrinha cotton, dry beans, and other grain production. The remainder of the increase in productivity is explained by improvements in seed technology, agronomic practices, infrastructure improvements, international markets, and public policy.

During the period, the nationwide soybean yield has increased 52% with the maximum yield increasing 39% and the minimum yield increasing 98%. For the nationwide corn yields, the increase was even more impressive. The average corn yield increased 113% with the minimum corn yield increasing 316%. The largest yield gains were from the smaller or marginal producer that adopted improved technology and agronomic practices.

The highest productivity areas tended to concentrate their grain production even more over the period. In 1990, the highest producing corn municipalities produced in the range of 250,000 tons of corn per year. Those same municipalities can now produce up to 2 million tons of corn per year.

During the period, agricultural production has moved northward into the cerrado (savanna) regions of central Brazil. As a result, the state of Mato Grosso is now the largest grain, fiber, and cattle producing state in Brazil.