The new Forest Law in Brazil, distinguishes the Areas of Permanent Preservation to reduce the degradation of freshwater, and the Legal Reserves to promote fauna and flora biodiversity conservation. In Mato Grosso, the largest beef producing state of Brazil, beef farms should return 80% of the farm area to forest. This could lead to a big change in beef production and farm design.
Beef cattle production in Brazil has to adapt to new policies to conserve the forest area. The new Forest Law, in Brazil, distinguishes the Areas of Permanent Preservation to reduce the degradation of freshwater, and the Legal Reserves to promote fauna and flora biodiversity conservation. In the Legal Amazon Region (LAR), beef farms should include up to 80% of the farm area as forest conservation in Legal Reserves. In the state of Mato Grosso, part of the LAR, and the largest beef producing state, the impact of the Forest Law could lead to a big change in beef production and farm design.
This study explored future scenarios for beef production in Mato Grosso, at the farm level, in terms of the carbon footprint and economic impact over 10 years. The scenarios were applied on an extensive beef farm of 3300 ha (623 ha of forest and 2617 ha of pasture), with 4630 animals at a stocking rate of 1.1 AU/ha. The modeling approach combined a beef herd model, pasture consumption model, pasture production model, and a GHG (greenhouse gas) emission model; all built in Microsoft Excel.
Reduction to 20% of pasture land will result in a big reduction in herd size, if the extensive way of beef production system is maintained, and the farm will change from a whole cycle beef production to calf production. Intensifying beef production on 20% of the area and keeping all the animals is possible (with 4.8 AU/ha). The scenarios of reducing the herd size or intensifying the herd management on 20% of the original pasture area, demonstrated a positive balance in CO2 equivalents, as they sequestrate more than they emit. Moreover, maintaining the extensive way of production on 20% of the area is economically viable, in the time span of this study, through forced sales. In future, technologies need to be applied to intensify the beef system on 20% of the remaining pasture, but the herd must be reduced in numbers too.
Student: L.F. Ruy Sacchett Dias
Supervisors: dr ir H. Udo, T. Viets