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Mon Jun 29, 2020, 06:36 PM

Brazil's Corn Yields Falling; Destruction Of Rain Forest & Savannah Pushing Temperatures Higher


Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon and neighboring savannah may be hurting regional corn yields, according to a new study released on Monday. Roughly one-fifth of Brazil's Amazon has been cleared in the last 50 years, as the country went from being a food importer to a global farming powerhouse. In terms of corn, Brazil is now the world's second largest exporter, after the United States.

But that forest-clearing, which also included more than half of the natural vegetation in the vast Cerrado savanna southeast of the Amazon, has made the region warmer. That heat is associated with lower corn yields, researchers reported in the science journal Nature Sustainability.

"The landscape is getting a lot hotter than it should be," said study co-author Stephanie Spera, an environmental scientist with the University of Richmond. "We're messing with the system so much that we actually might not be able to continue to cultivate agriculture, specifically corn."

The researchers linked the deforestation to a 5-10% drop in corn yields across most of the west-central state of Mato Grosso, Brazil's largest grains producer. Soybean crops, which tend to be more heat-resilient, were not significantly affected, Spera said.



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