United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Low-Carbon Agriculture put in practice in Brazilian Savannas

EMBRAPA - Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (

    We contribute to low carbon agriculture trough technology transfer. By a field agent network formation (training of extension agents) and the implementation of technological reference units, we promote innovation, allowing the production of food, fiber and energy with productive, economic, environmental and social sustainability. Our technologies allow the reduction of deforestation and decrease pressure over native vegetation areas and increase the amount of food produced per area. The technologies we develop and transfer aim the recovery of degraded pastures; livestock production intensification on pasture; crop-livestock-forest integration; and the implementation of no-tillage systems.


    The practice objective is to transfer low-carbon agriculture/livestock technologies to producers, stimulating the adoption of these technologies which allows them not only high productive sustainability, but economic, environmental and social sustainability as well. Focusing on recovery of degraded pastures; intensification of livestock production on pasture; no-tillage systems, crop-livestock-forest integration and nitrogen biological fixation, we promote the most efficient production for the tropics, which result in: productive gains, productive longevity, resilience, increase in producers’ income (reducing social inequalities) and also contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions. All of our activities converge to SDG 2, SDG10 and SDG 13, notably SDG 2.3; SDGs: 2.4 and 2.A ; SDG10.3 and SDG 13.3.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    We tailored our actions to increase agricultural productivity and producers' income, through (i) access to rural extension, (ii) specific credit lines; (iii) encouraging associations; and (iv) opportunities to add value to their products. Allowing producers to implement resilient agricultural practices that increase production and productivity (while improving soil and water quality, promoting ecosystem services and copping with climate change), we increase the proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture.

    Implementation methodologies

    We transfer technology through an extension agents network plus a technological reference units network. In order to form these networks, we promote a continuous training based on: Reference Networks (Miranda and Doliveira, 2005) and Training & Visit (Benor and Harrisson, 1977; Domit et al., 2007) methodologies. Once trained, extension agents should transfer knowledge to growers. Thus we can expand the impact and the capillarity of our work. The technologies proposed by us are aligned to the National Policy on Climate Change, aiming the recovery of degraded pastures and the reduction of anthropic pressure on native vegetation areas, implementation of crop-livestock-forest systems, no-tillage production, and biological nitrogen fixation. We carry out (i) the continuous training of extension agents and growers, through technical meetings, where they participate in the discussion of managements and technologies in the low-carbon agricultural context (ii) implementation of technological reference units (iii) the diffusion of these technologies through field days, lectures, technical tours and (iv) the demands induction for the adoption of this technologies by the productive sector. Each extension agent undertakes to implement the technologies in (at least one) farm, with our remotely support 14 hours a day. We do not provide financial support, we only provide knowledge and technical support. The learning process takes place around the technological reference units, which function as real learning environments, where extension agents and growers put the acquired knowledge into practice. We are 8 researchers (agronomists and animal scientists). Our actions use around US$ 10000.00 a year and are monitored by software that assesses the impacts of these technologies adoption.


    Our work has provided: (i) strengthening of public and private extension service; (ii) growers now have a network of qualified professionals in low-carbon agriculture; (iii) extension agents have expanded their client list; (iv) Embrapa increased the adoption of its technologies, in addition expanding our technical database, financial data, environmental data and social data on the use of our technologies; (v) we can, in real time, feedback the research with problems found in the farms. At the same time our work promotes (i)restoration of degraded pasture areas (ii) increase in cattle grazing productivity/area (effect “saves land”) where one produces more/area and liberates areas for conservation or other uses; (iii) increase in no-tillage area; (iv) improvement in the quality of no-tillage straw, which is very important to protect Brazilian savanna soils, which suffer a high incidence of radiation and (v) increase in the production area of integrated crop-livestock-forest systems.

    Factors and Constraints

    To overcome budget constraints partnerships were established, enabling the implementation of technological reference units as a way to transfer/disseminate the technologies recommended by us. Resources restrictions showed us that the path to success would be to focus on municipalities where there was a favorable interactive environment among institutions, government, NGOs and producers. The ability we´ve had to adapt the methodology as the experiences were undergone was very important. There wasn’t a 100% adapted method to our needs, certainly, the adaptation of consolidated technology transfer methodologies is an important delivery we made.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The methodology we developed can be replicated in other locations or for transferring other technologies. Partnerships need to be established between institutions to support and develop the actions, in order to enable the implementation of technological reference units as a way to transferring the technologies. Regions where there’s a favorable interactive environment among institutions, government, NGOs is strongly recommended. A good integration among the main actors will help the practice to succeed. As well as (i) the engagement of the local extension agents with good knowledge/willingness to learn; (ii) willing and open minded producers; (iii) structured productive chains. We overcome extension agents’ and producers’ resistance to new technologies by the results we brought, this is the best way to gain their trust. The productivity increase provided an increase in profitability, with lower unit costs and consequent better financial return which led to the adhesion of producers.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Covid 19 had a great impact on our work as we were prevented from having our face-to-face training meetings, as well as prevented us from making visits and mentoring trips to the farms. To mitigate this situation, we have further strengthened mentoring via online meetings and the messaging app (whats app) group. We made online versions of the training courses and also several live streaming to pass on content to extension agents and producers being trained.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 March 2012 (start date)
    31 December 2030 (date of completion)
    Contact Information

    Marcia, Low-Carbon Agriculture put in practice in Brazilian Savannas