Near doubling of Brazil’s intensive row crop area since 2000

Viviana Zalles, Matthew C. Hansen, Peter V. Potapov, Stephen V. Stehman, Alexandra Tyukavina, Amy Pickens, Xiao Peng Song, Bernard Adusei, Chima Okpa, Ricardo Aguilar, Nicholas John, Selena Chavez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Brazil has become a global leader in the production of commodity row crops such as soybean, sugarcane, cotton, and corn. Here, we report an increase in Brazilian cropland extent from 26.0 Mha in 2000 to 46.1 Mha in 2014. The states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí, Bahia (collectively MATOPIBA), Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Pará all more than doubled in cropland extent. The states of Goiás, Minas Gerais, and São Paulo each experienced >50% increases. The vast majority of expansion, 79%, occurred on repurposed pasture lands, and 20% was from the conversion of natural vegetation. Area of converted Cerrado savannas was nearly 2.5 times that of Amazon forests, and accounted for more than half of new cropland in MATOPIBA. Spatiotemporal dynamics of cropland expansion reflect market conditions, land use policies, and other factors. Continued extensification of cropland across Brazil is possible and may be likely under current conditions, with attendant benefits for and challenges to development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-435
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 8 2019


  • Cropland expansion | land cover change | remote sensing | Brazil | area estimation


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