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Deforestation and land-clearing are taking a toll on Brazil’s corn yield

Corn fields being harvested in central Mato Grosso (in the Cerrado), Brazil. Credit: Stephanie Spera. Brazil is one of the top three producers of both soy and corn globally, and its agricultural sector accounts for one-fifth of the country’s economy. Deforestation and land-clearing practices have long been linked to decreases in biodiversity, and increases in temperature, stream flow, fire occurence, and carbon dioxide emissions. According to a Dartmouth study published in Nature Sustainability , these land-clearing practices in Brazil are also altering the climate and can significantly reduce corn yields.

The study examines the Cerrado, a biome located in the heart of Brazil, where most of the soy and corn for export is grown. The Brazilian Cerrado is far less protected than the Amazon. Previous research has found that the Amazon is being saved at the expense of the Cerrado. If you own land in the Amazon, legally, you are required to protect 80 percent of the land; however, if you own land in the Cerrado, you are only required to protect 20 percent of the land. As a result, only 3 percent of the entire Cerrado is legally protected.

To examine the impacts of agribusiness and climate change in the […]

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