Restoring The Soil: Grass Farming In The Amazons
Written by: Matheus Sborgia & Yoni Nimrod
Video by Yoni Nimrod/ Edible Story
Terras Caipora is a farm is located in the heart of the Brazilian Cerrado — the richest tropical savanna in the world. A biome that corresponds to 22% of our national territory and that unfortunately is being wiped out with unsustainable practices of agriculture. More than half of this territory show signs of degradation and species are quickly disappearing. Springs are drying out. Plants are dying. Animals in most places no longer have a home or food to eat. We are rapidly desertifying our grasslands in exchange for capital. Today, lots of lands had been deforested for animal production in Brazil (mostly beef). Cattle overgrazed the land, compacted the soil, dried springs and eroded thousands of hectares. However, it’s not the animal to blame, but man’s poor management. Terras Caipora is a farm project with the goal of recovering a small part of this biome by introducing a different method of farming.
Ruminants such as Cows are capable of transforming sunlight into high-quality protein. Simply by eating grass. I would like to create an optimal relationship between animals and grass by a process known as rotational grazing.
With the use of electric fencing, I aim to divide the whole farm in many smaller paddocks where the cows will have access to fresh grass every day and grass will have enough time to rest and grow before meeting cow again. A system where the animal trims down perennial grasses for feed and give back very healthy and active manure to naturally fertilize the soil. The consequence of this method is improved soil fertility, more time and possibility for plants to develop deeper root structures and with that create a richer soil that can also retain more water.
The 346 hectares of “Terras Caipora” will eventually become an example for other farmers. Matheus is a former pastry chef who decided to become a farmer and started this project when he inherited the land from his grandfather. He wants to show that a different, more efficient and at the same time a more sustainable way of managing animals can be achieved. He wants to demonstrate that the implementation of a circular system of food production where plants, animals, and humans coexist is possible. A system that preserves and amplifies biodiversity. That respects the rhythms of nature, builds organic matter, trap atmospheric carbon under our soils and feed people as well as the land.