Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published at Research Square April 28, 2022


Published in Nature Sustainability,


License: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Version of Record: A version of this preprint was published at Nature Sustainability on October 10th, 2022. See the published version at


The Amazon basin includes 550 M ha covered with rainforests, with 60% of this area being in Brazil. Conversion of rainforest for soybean production raises concerns about the degree to which Brazil can reconcile production and environmental goals. Here we investigated the degree to which intensification could help Brazil produce more soybean without further encroachment of the Amazon Forest. Our analysis shows that continuation of current trends in soybean yield and area would lead to conversion of additional 5.7 M ha of forests and savannas during the next 15 years, with an associated 2550 Mt of CO2eq released into the atmosphere. In contrast, acceleration of yield improvement, coupled with expansion of soybean area only in areas currently used for livestock production, would allow Brazil to achieve similar economic benefits without deforestation and with substantially lower global climate warming.