Environmental Cost–Benefit Analysis [chapter]

N. Hanley
2013 Encyclopedia of Energy, Natural Resource, and Environmental Economics  
Most deforested lands in Brazil are occupied by low-productivity cattle ranching. Brazil is the second biggest meat producer worldwide and is projected to increase its agricultural output more than any other country. Biochar has been shown to improve soil properties and agricultural productivity when added to degraded soils, but these effects are context-dependent. The impact of biochar, fertilizer and inoculant on the productivity of forage grasses in Brazil (Brachiaria spp. and Panicum spp.)
more » ... and Panicum spp.) was investigated from environmental and socio-economic perspectives. We showed a 27% average increase in Brachiaria production over two years but no significant effects of amendment on Panicum yield. Biochar addition also increased the contents of macronutrients, soil pH and CEC. Each hectare amended with biochar saved 91 tonnes of CO 2 eq through land sparing effect, 13 tonnes of CO 2 eq sequestered in the soil, equating to U$455 in carbon payments. The costs of biochar production for smallholder farmers, mostly because of labour cost, outweighed the potential benefits of its use. Biochar is 617% more expensive than common fertilizers. Biochar could improve productivity of degraded pasturelands in Brazil if investments in efficient biochar production techniques are used and biochar is subsidized by low emission incentive schemes. Land covered with forage grasses for animal grazing occupies 26% of global ice-free land 1 and livestock provides employment and sustenance to nearly one third of the world's population. Pasturelands contribute significantly (40%) to global agriculture gross domestic product 2 . Inadequate management of pastures and soil degradation throughout the tropics renders pasture productivity below its potential and lead to adverse economic
doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-375067-9.00103-0 fatcat:pogfwjp44bczxkav22qokx6tfq