September 7, 2021

A farm in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul – situated in the west of the country close to the border with Paraguay – has become the first in Brazil to obtain a certificate declaring its meat to be carbon neutral.

According to The Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA) the Santa Verginia farm, located in Santa Rita do Pardo, has successfully adopted a traceability protocol that works with Crop-Livestock-Forest (ILPF) and Crop-Livestock (LP) integration systems to neutralise greenhouse gases emitted in the process of producing cattle beef.

The concept focuses on pasture as a herd’s main source of food, encouraging the recovery of degraded areas. The certification was developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA) and is managed by CNA.

At Santa Verginia, 1,000 out of the 10,000 hectares of the farm are part of the protocol. The farm’s consultant, José Zacarin, says that the integration systems offer a number of benefits for both animals and plants. About 30% of the farm is covered by trees and Zacarin comments: “The 30% that has trees produces the equivalent of 50% if it were from a dense forest. In other words, we already have 20% more wood production than a natural forest.”

Online help to achieve a carbon neutral farm

According to Paulo Costa, coordinator of traceability protocols at CNA, all the information that ranchers need to adapt and claim a certification can be found online, with CNA doing the verification.

Costa said: “The rancher can check the requirements of this protocol, find qualified certifiers, and thus increase their profitability. This happens because, in addition to the herd, they will have certified meat and, at the end of the planted forest cycle, they will also have the proceeds from the sale of forest material.”

According to a study by Embrapa Gado de Corte (Embrapa Beef Cattle), 200 trees per hectare are enough to neutralise the methane emitted by 11 adult cattle per hectare per year.

“The protocol brings a series of benefits from both pasture and animals, apart from supplementation, pasture fertilisation, and management of the correct pasture height. All these variables are checked during the production process and the monitoring of soil carbon,” said Roberto Giolo, a researcher.

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