Minimum tillage [Brazil]

Plantio direto

technologies_1270 - Brazil

Completeness: 73%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
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SLM specialist:

Schindewolf Marcus

Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg


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1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Seed of maize and soy are planted directly into the soil with a minimum previous tillage impact.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


After harvesting stubbles of maize or soy remain on site. When the planting season started the soil is opened by rolling discs pulled by a tractor. The seeds are directly put into the open soil which is compacted afterwards with rolling wheels of the same machine.

Purpose of the Technology: With minimum tillage practices tilling and seeding operations could be implemented fast and very efficient. The high power of impact allows the cultivation of large fields in short time, especially if small windows of wet initial conditions need to be used. The purpose is to avoid deep plowing of the soils that would need much higher energy and costs and would lead to typical serious erosion problems in the tropics.

Establishment / maintenance activities and inputs: The technology was implemented in the area since approximately 15 years. High technological standard of tillage tools, tractors and service is needed. Since the whole farm system has changed, farmer need special knowledge in no-till measures especially with regard to pest management.

Natural / human environment: The region belongs to the semi-humid tropics and to the cerrado biome in the centre of the South American continent. Natural vegetation has been deforested some 20-40 year ago and was shifted to soy bean fields, pastures, corn and sugar cane fields.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Mato Grosso

Further specification of location:

Campo Verde, Primavera do Leste

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • > 10,000 km2

Boundary points of the Technology area: Flat cerrado biome of Brazil
The area in which the SLM technology is applied is much bigger and can be found also in other states of Brazil that is located in the cerrado biome.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • 10-50 years ago

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied

Land use mixed within the same land unit:


Specify mixed land use (crops/ grazing/ trees):
  • Agroforestry



  • Annual cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - maize
  • cereals - millet
  • fibre crops - cotton
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

Longest growing period in days: 150 Longest growing period from month to month: September-January Second longest growing period in days: 100 Second longest growing period from month to month: January-July

Is intercropping practiced?


If yes, specify which crops are intercropped:

Sometimes Pearl millet is planted as an inter-crop.

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

Products and services:
  • Timber
  • Fuelwood
  • Nature conservation/ protection

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): biodiversity loss, water pollution, soil erosion

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): unpredictable weather, unpredictable world market prices, climate change

Forest products and services: timber, fuelwood, nature conservation / protection

Type of cropping system and major crops comments: Sometimes Pearl millet is planted as an inter-crop.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • minimal soil disturbance

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A3: Soil surface treatment
structural measures

structural measures

  • S1: Terraces
management measures

management measures

  • M1: Change of land use type
  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level
  • M6: Waste management (recycling, re-use or reduce)

Main measures: agronomic measures, structural measures, management measures

Type of agronomic measures: better crop cover, mixed cropping / intercropping, cover cropping, legume inter-planting, manure / compost / residues, mineral (inorganic) fertilizers, zero tillage / no-till, minimum tillage

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion

Main type of degradation addressed: Wt: loss of topsoil / surface erosion

Main causes of degradation: soil management, deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires), Heavy / extreme rainfall (intensity/amounts), droughts

Secondary causes of degradation: crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub), change of seasonal rainfall, wind storms / dust storms, floods

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation

Main goals: prevention of land degradation
Secondary goals: mitigation / reduction of land degradation
Third goal: rehabilitation / reclamation of denuded land

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

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Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high

Technical knowledge required for land users: high

Main technical functions: control of dispersed runoff: retain / trap, control of dispersed runoff: impede / retard, control of concentrated runoff: retain / trap, control of concentrated runoff: impede / retard, improvement of ground cover, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…), increase / maintain water stored in soil

Secondary technical functions: control of raindrop splash, reduction of slope angle, reduction of slope length, increase of surface roughness, improvement of surface structure (crusting, sealing), improvement of topsoil structure (compaction), improvement of subsoil structure (hardpan), increase in organic matter, increase of infiltration, increase of groundwater level / recharge of groundwater, water harvesting / increase water supply, water spreading, increase of biomass (quantity)

Better crop cover
Material/ species: stubbles

Mixed cropping / intercropping
Material/ species: safrinha

Cover cropping
Material/ species: stubbles

Terrace: backward sloping
Vertical interval between structures (m): 2
Spacing between structures (m): 50

Bund/ bank: level
Vertical interval between structures (m): 0.5
Spacing between structures (m): 50

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

other/ national currency (specify):

Real Brasileiro

If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Bulldozing dry season

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Bulldozing ha 1.0 3000.0 3000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 3000.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 980.39

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. reparation yearly

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Costs are determined by the enormous field size and the soil type

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:


Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Thermal climate class: tropics. 25.6

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Altitudinal zone: 501-1000 m a.s.l. (630 m)

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility: Low
Soil drainage/infiltration: Good
Soil water storage capacity: Very low

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

5-50 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

for agricultural use only (irrigation)

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • high

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • rich
  • very rich
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly Leaders / privileged

Population density: < 10 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 3% - 4%

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • large-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • company
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • individual

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production


production area


land management


energy generation

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs


Socio-cultural impacts

conflict mitigation


Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

water quantity


water quality


surface runoff


excess water drainage


groundwater table/ aquifer




soil moisture


soil cover


soil loss


soil compaction


nutrient cycling/ recharge


soil organic matter/ below ground C

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C

Climate and disaster risk reduction

emission of carbon and greenhouse gases


wind velocity


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability


reliable and stable stream flows in dry season


downstream flooding


wind transported sediments


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase not well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm not well
local windstorm not known
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought not well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not well

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period not well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

slightly positive

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

neutral/ balanced

Long-term returns:

slightly positive

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 91-100%

90% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

There is a moderate trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
The no-tillage technology reduced soil erosion by water and helps to minimize carbon release into the atmosphere. It reduces management costs in the long run.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
No tillage is a high-input technology that needs some expensive investments in the beginning.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

Links and modules

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