Integrated Crop Management

Vol. 5-2007

Tropical crop-livestock systems in
conservation agriculture

The Brazilian experience

John N. Landers

Associaçã de Plantio Direto no Cerrado, Brasília, DF, Brazil


This publication describes how pasture, fodder and livestock production have been integrated into conservation agriculture systems in Brazil’s tropical zones. Vast areas of forest have been cleared in the tropical areas of Brazil for establishment of pastures that become unproductive once the native fertility of the soil is exhausted; this leads to yet more forest clearing.

Integrated crop–livestock zero tillage systems allow for the sustainable production of high-yielding pasture without further deforestation; in this system, grazing livestock convert both pastures and crop residues into cash. The ability of pasture to build up the fertility and biological activity of the topsoil is well known. The economics of the system are discussed and its very positive ecological effects are described at length.

This publication is geared towards agronomists, advanced farmers, extension workers and agricultural decision-makers throughout the tropics and subtropics. It is hoped that the many lessons learned and technologies developed in the Brazilian tropics can serve, with the necessary local adaptation, as a starting reference for other tropical (and subtropical) zones.
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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome, 2007