From 1980 to 2016, grain production in Brazil increased more than fourfold, and the country now stands as the world's largest soybean exporter and the second largest exporter of corn. The two main drivers of this increase in food production were cropland expansion and double-cropping, harvesting two crops, such as corn and soybeans, from the same field in a single year.
While cropland expansion has long been recognized as one of the drivers behind the increase in Brazil's agricultural output, a new study published in Nature Food quantifies for the first time the impact that double-cropping also had on helping Brazil achieve its national grain boom.
Jing Gao, assistant professor of Geospatial Data Science in the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment (CEOE) and Data Science Institute (DSI), was a co-author on the study that included collaborators from institutions in China and Brazil.
Gao contributed to the team efforts by examining agriculture census-related data gathered from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), and identifying spatial patterns and changes that occurred over time in three key agricultural regions with regards to food production: the Centre-West, Southeast-South, and Matopiba regions in Brazil.
"You don't know what is happening until you analyze data," said Gao. "This was the first time this unique dataset was analyzed from this angle to show how the system worked. Understanding how the boost in Brazil's grain productivity was achieved in the recent past provides insight for developing sustainable food production in the future."
These three regions covered 36% of Brazil's territory and accounted for 79% of the national soybean production and 85% of the country's corn production in 2016. The Centre-West area showed the biggest increases in production as well as cropland expansion. As such, the Centre-West displaced the Southeast-South as the dominant grain producer in the country, producing 46% of the nation's grain compared to 29% for the Southeast-South.
The increase in grain production in the Centre-West can be attributed to cropland expansion as well as double-cropping.
(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily.