The 2017/2018 soybean crop season is actually a landmark that stablished the year Brazil have equalled or even surpassed USA in soybean production.
Many people still do not know but Brazil dedicates only 8.6% of its territory for annual crops (arable lands) and preserves as forests 61.9 % of its country as compared to 16.8% for arable lands and 33.3% for forest areas in the United States, according to CIA data available in the internet (2011 estimates). These same sort of up-to-dated numbers are also available at NASA and in lesser known publications (2), but it only corroborates what have already been stated.
But, still when the word “deforestation” is pronounced, Brazil’s name is the first one that comes to ones mind thanks mostly to american free press otherwise also known as the “fake news” machine.
To make those numbers even more compelling maybe it would be sufficient to say that US dedicates 152 million hectares for cropland as compared to 64 million hectares dedicated by brazilian farmers also for cropland, i.e. Brazil is able to produce the same quantity of soybeans plus other annual crops using less than half of the area americans use for their croplands.
In spite of all the difficulties faced by brazilian farmers, who don’t have the same degree of support of american farmers , such as subsidies, lower diesel and electricity cost, better farm tractors and machinery prices, lower fertilizer and agrichemical prices, as well as better infra-structure such as better transportation and storage facilities for their crops, still brazilians have managed to obtain better results than their american counterparts at least in soybean production. This is a fact. No one can deny that fact.
But if the United States have the best Ag Universities and Research Centers in the whole world what could be possibly wrong ?
To start with, there is a great chance that what is actually being taught at the American Ag Universities would not be 100% true and correct. We also have to recognize that americans are in the habit of “looking at their own belly buttons” by ignoring the rest of the world and specially when it comes to agriculture where farmers are extremely conservative to the point that it stops them from moving forward in this ever changing and increasing competitive world.
In spite of false and fraudulent reports such as “Farms Here, Forest There” ( 1 ) which present alarming data on deforestation, the real truth is that NASA has come to the conclusion that Brasil dedicates a mere 8.6% of all his territory to agricultural crops as compared to 17.4% dedicated by americans for this same kind of crops ( 2 ). Therefore, who is preserving the environment better ?
Brazil has already given to the world several sustainable agricultural practices such as No Till Planting, Multi Species Cover Crops ( Cocktails ), Roller Crimper for cover crops termination in substitution for toxic herbicides, all of those well known agricultural techniques are now used throughout the civilized world.
The origin of those achievements are not even known by the american farmers much less by the american journalists and general public, who insist in bad mouthing brazilian growers as the “champions of deforestation”.
A new sustainable agricultural technique, however, is emerging in Brazil and can also be used by any country who wants to cut ever increasing agricultural production costs. I am talking about the “Multiplication of Non Patented (extracted from the Nature) Living Organisms” for agricultural purposes done directly by the farmers or “On Farm” as the brazilians use to say.
Since these organisms were extracted and isolated from the Nature they are not protected by any patent and therefore can be multiplied to be used directly on the farm. The Brazilian Agricultural and Environmental Legislation sees no problem in the multiplication of naturally occuring microorganisms for “on farm” usage. This suddenly reduction in their production cost made possible their utilization in large acreages and in large quantities never before used or imagined by Ag microbiologists giving birth to a new brazilian agricultural technique known as “Biological Flooding Method” in which an specific organisms is used temporarily in numbers not seen before in Nature, to resolve an specific insect, disease or nematode problem.
With this new technique they are managing several insect, fungi and nematodes problems. Soybean, for instance, are now cultivated without any of the previous five chemical insecticides and three chemical fungicides applications. All the insects in Corn are now handled biologically with organisms multiplied on the farm. Pathogenic nematodes are eliminated from areas where you had their occurence causing problems for decades.
An unexpected “side effect” of the use of biological products is that several of them are also endophytic such as Azospirillum brasiliense and Bacillus thuringiensis and can and will enter the plants and start producing Plant Growth Regulators ( PGRs ) giving the plant an additional nutritional boost.
Brazil has enabled their farmers to make use of this technique by providing the necessary legislation and legal protection based on the fact that bacteria and fungi are Nature components and therefore accesible by anyone interested in using them.
In this respect a great help has come from the official network of agricultural research, both at state and federal levels, by releasing new microorganisms strains to the industry and by providing scientific and regulatory data to enable this practice to become a common, affordable and sustainable one.
But, if any farmer wants to reap the benefits of this new sustainable technique, they need to get rid of the old prejudice of what is known in the eco-agriculture circles as “a bug in a jug”. In this case, the proper “bug” in the bottle will be used as a “certified seed or propagule” in the same fashion of a genetically pure variety of corn or soybean are used, so it can be properly multiplied to be used in the farm and give the grower the benefits they are supposed to do and for which they have been created by the industry.
Brazil today is a living example on how open minded researchers, farmers, ag consultants and legislators can buid together a better and more sustainable agriculture and therefore a safer environment in spite of biassed reports from the world fake news industry.
José Luiz M Garcia
Instituto de Agricultura Biologica
- Friedman, S. et all ( Not dated ) Farm here, Forest there, Tropical Deforestation and U.S. Competitiveness in Agriculture and Timber. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-o3mZFR7nIWMjI2ZDhmZTMtNDJhNS00ZTQ2LWFiMTYtMmYyZjM4NDNlNmFj/view
- Miranda, Evaristo (2018) Shades of Green – Sustainable Agriculture in Brazil, Ed Metalivros, requests – email@example.com