The transition to integrated agricultural systems and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions in Mato Grosso, Brazil

Juliana Gil summarizes the finding of her YSSP project in which she investigated the drivers of and barriers to land use transitions under different scenarios, and their impact on the GHG emissions of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.




Integrated systems (IS) are an interesting strategy for promoting sustainable agricultural intensification and optimizing land use in already deforested areas. In the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso (MT), the transition to IS would be particularly important to halt the expansion of the agricultural frontier in Southern Amazonia. However, despite such benefits, IS still represent a very small share of MT's area. The present study is an effort to investigate the drivers of and barriers to land use transitions under different scenarios, as well as the impact these may have on MT's overall GHG emissions.


A land use optimization model for MT was built and written in GAMS, based on data gathered for all of its 141 municipalities. Information on the evolution of domestic and international demand for crops, livestock and timber were extracted from GLOBIOM simulations. Based on previous field research in MT, five agricultural production systems were characterized in the model: two IS and three conventional systems. Conventional and GMO technologies for crops were also considered. Four policy scenarios representing new domestic policies and different international market conditions were tested for: (A) credit provision through the ABC Plan; (B) increasing grain prices; (C) increasing beef prices; and (D) increasing fertilizer prices. The period of analysis goes from 2006 to 2020.


Under current conditions, IS may be comparatively less profitable in the short run due to their higher implementation costs. However, as the marginal productivity of conventional systems tends to decrease over time, IS become economically attractive after only their second year of implementation, especially on degraded pastures. Land allocation for crops and IS is highly influenced by commodity prices in the international market. IS currently represent less than 5% of MT agro-pastoral area, but their adoption would be stimulated by the further implementation of the ABC Plan, higher beef prices, and higher fertilizer prices (whereas higher grain prices would have the opposite effect). However, due to differences in farmers' capitalization requirements and in the composition of the farms' production costs, integrated livestock-forestry systems and integrated crop-livestock system with off-season cattle only take off under the credit provision scenario.


The adoption of IS in MT is likely to contribute to the rehabilitation of degraded pastures, but their broader dissemination strongly depends on market price volatility. Credit provision can stimulate the adoption of IS to a certain extent, especially in a context of increasing production costs, but it is not as influential when analyzed on its own. The calculation of GHG emissions is still in progress.


Embrapa – Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation [online]
MAPA – Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture [online]


Juliana Gil, of the University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany, is a Brazilian citizen living in Germany. She was funded by IIASA's Brazilian National Member Organization, and during the YSSP worked in the Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM) Program.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.

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Last edited: 19 August 2015


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