The interrelations between diverse conservation decisions in a tropical soybean frontier: what are the financial and environmental tradeoffs of good agricultural practices adoption?

Authors: Martin Delaroche*, Indiana University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Agricultural Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Soybean, deforestation, decision-making, good agricultural practices, Brazil, Amazon, zero deforestation, supply chain, commodities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Many initiatives labelled as “zero-deforestation” are attempting to eliminate deforestation from commodity value chains of products such as soybean, beef, or palm oil by suggesting sustainability pathways to farmers, cattle-ranchers, and others whose livelihoods depend upon land and forests. In Brazil, farm profitability in the Amazon has historically rested upon the expansion of cultivated areas over forests. Now, an increasing number of actors advocate for the intensification of agricultural production (i.e. high per hectare output) as a way to avoid deforestation. However, sustainable production pathways following such a binary opposition (i.e. expansion versus intensification) often amount to trading one environmental impact (i.e. deforestation) for another (e.g. nutrients leaching, soil erosion). In this paper, I examine how some conservation decisions (i.e. to not deforest) may be associated with other decisions that do not promote conservation (e.g. increased fertilizer and chemical input use). Instead, I look at how system-level factors such as technology, institutions, and agricultural visions influence the universe of conservation decisions available to a farmer. Conservation adoption is thus inherently tied to financial and environmental vulnerability. Building on more than a hundred field interviews with soybean producers in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, as well as agricultural production census data and previous work on a typology of farmer production strategies, I suggest a broader methodological approach to the study of the adoption of GAPs that includes the influence of systemic aspects.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login