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Sustainable intensification of Brazilian livestock production through optimized pasture restoration

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  • Rafael de Oliveira Silva
  • Luis Gustavo Barioni
  • J. A. Julian Hall
  • Antonio Carlos Moretti
  • Rui Fonseca Veloso
  • Peter Alexandera
  • Mariane Crespolini
  • Dominic Moran


Publication details

JournalAgricultural Systems
DateAccepted/In press - 7 Feb 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Feb 2017
DatePublished (current) - May 2017
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)201-211
Early online date20/02/17
Original languageEnglish


Grassland degradation compromises the profitability of Brazilian livestock production, and pasture recovery is a
promising strategy for sustainable intensification of agriculture (SAI). Recovery increases carbon sequestration
into the soil and can potentially avoid deforestation; thereby reducing emissions intensity (EI), but only at increased
investment cost per unit of area. We develop a multi-period linear programming (LP) model for grazing beef production
planning to represent a typical Cerrado stocking and finishing beef farm.We compare economic and environmental
performance of two alternative optimized pasture management approaches relative to the traditional
practice (TRP), which is based on restoring pasture after a full degradation cycle of 8 years. The scenarios considered
the differencemade by access to subsidized credit through the Low Carbon Agriculture program (“Programa ABC”).
The model estimates EI using upstream life cycle assessment (LCA), and dynamically estimates soil organic carbon
(SOC) changes as a function of pasture management. The results show net present values (NPV) ranging from−67
Brazilian reals per hectare-year (R$·ha−1·yr−1) to around 300 R$·ha−1·yr−1, respectively for traditional and optimized
pasture management strategies. Estimated EI of the TRP is 9.26 kg CO2 equivalent per kg of carcass weight
equivalent (kg CO2e/kg CWE) relative to 3.59 kg CO2e/kg CWE for optimizedmanagement. Highest emission abatement
results from improved SOC sequestration, while access to credit could further reduce EI by around 20%.We
consider the effects of alternative credit interest on both NPV and EI. The results provide evidence to inform the design
of Brazil's key domestic policy incentive for low carbon agriculture, which is an important component of the
country's IntendedNationally Determined Contributions (INDC) onemissionsmitigation. The results also contribute
to the global debate on the interpretation of SAI.

Bibliographical note

© 2017 The Authors

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