Land Change in Brazil's Cerrado:

Ethanol and Sugarcane Expansion

at the Farm and Industry Scale

Reduction of carbon emissions has become a global effort that is leading to higher demand for “clean” and more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. Among renewable sources is ethanol, with its estimated market of U$30-40 billion in 2004 and total production of 13.5 billion gallons in 2006 (Martines-Filho et al. 2006; Serra & Zilberman 2009). Brazilian ethanol dates back to the 1930s. However, its importance has increased in the last twenty years as a consequence of external and internal factors.

The proposed project focuses on:


Determine how external factors, including biofuel demand and supply, sugarcane demand and supply, biofuel industry expansion, and government policy, impact farmers’ ecisions to produce sugarcane for biofuel production and impact land use and land cover change in the Cerrado.


Examine factors affecting farmers’ decision-making regarding sugarcane production and expansion and its impact on land-use and land-cover change in the Cerrado.


Predict future land-use and land-cover change in the Cerrado under d ifferent biofuel market and policy scenarios.

Study Region

The Cerrado occupies the central portion of Brazil, including the states of Tocantins, Góias, Mato Grosso do Sul, southern Mato Grosso, the Federal District, the west and north of Minas Gerais, and western Bahia. There are also pieces of the Cerrado in São Paulo, Maranhão, Rondônia, Piauí, and Amapá.

For many decades, the traditional producing states in the Northeast and in the Southeast had provided the majority of ethanol in Brazil. However, Brazil’s Center-West is now moving to become the new dominant ethanol supply region. As ethanol market expansion in the Cerrado increases, it is accompanied by higher numbers of distilleries and increased planted area of sugarcane (IBGE 2010). Between 1990 and 2009, area planted to sugarcane increased from 239,781 ha to 1,051,638 ha (IBGE 2010). By 2020, this is projected to increase to over 4,120,000 ha in the Center-West of Brazil (Valdes 2011). In addition, over 100 new cane mills have been built in the last six years in Brazil, many in the Cerrado, raising cane-milling capacity by 60% between 2005/06 and 2010/11 (IBGE 2010). Ethanol production in the region is expected to increase by 63% by 2018 (Valdes 2011).

Principal Investigators

Ana Elisa Lourenzani

Possui graduação em Agronomia pela Universidade Federal de Viçosa (1998), mestrado em Engenharia de Produção pela Universidade Federal de São Carlos (2003), doutorado em Engenharia de Produção pela Universidade Federal de São Carlos (2006) e Pós-doutorado na Kansas State University. Atualmente é professor assistente da Universidade Estadual Paulista, Campus de Tupã. Tem experiência na área de Gestão de Sistemas Agroindustriais, atuando principalmente nos seguintes temas: ações coletivas, agricultura familiar e agronegócio.

Personal Webpage

Wagner Lourenzani

Possui graduação em Engenharia de Alimentos pela Universidade Federal de Viçosa (1997), mestrado em Ciência e Tecnologia de Alimentos pela Universidade Federal de Viçosa (2000) e doutorado em Engenharia de Produção pela Universidade Federal de São Carlos (2005). Atualmente é professor assistente da Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho. Tem experiência na área de Engenharia de Produção, com ênfase em Gestão Agroindustrial, atuando principalmente nos seguintes temas: gestão da produção, agronegócio, arranjo produtivo local e desenvolvimento regional. É Coordenador do Grupo CEPEAGRO (Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas em Administração e Agronegócios).

Personal Webpage

Alex Coutinho

Dr. Coutinho has a BA in Biology from University of São Paulo (USP), a M.Sc. in Ecology and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the same university. He is a research in the Brazilian enterprise of Agricultura research (EMBRAPA-Empresa Brasileira de Agropecuária) since 1989. Dr. Coutinho was the Adjunct head of Research Development and Innovation in the Center for Satellite Environment Monitoring where he supervises projects in geotechnologies for environmental management. In 2012, Dr. Coutinho received a “National Award for Excellence” in the category of Individual Research from EMBRAPA.

Personal Webpage

Jason Bergtold

Dr. Bergtold’s research includes: the economics of adopting intensive conservation production practices and systems at the farm level; the impact of bio-energy alternatives and feedstock production on-farm; the interaction between agricultural practices, conservation policy and the environment at the farm level; and the development of applied discrete choice econometric modelling techniques. In addition, he has completed research examining the estimation of large demand systems and the international trade of peanuts. Dr. Bergtold teaches optimization techniques and methods at the graduate level.

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Tia Xian

Tian Xia’s research interests include industrial organization in food and agricultural industries, applied econometrics, and international trade and policy. His current research focuses on industrial organization issues such as contracts and vertical coordination, product differentiation, market structure, and competition in food and agricultural industries. His teaching interests are market structure and organization, econometrics, demand and price analysis, and international trade. He teaches a Ph.D. course in agricultural demand and commodity markets.

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Chris Brown

I am a “human-environment” geographer, one who feels uncomfortable being labeled as either human or physical. Through my teaching and research, I try to tell stories about the unfolding human experience on earth as one influenced by natural systems, social systems, and systems of culture and meaning. Ever since my years as an undergraduate biology major, I have been fascinated by the rapid changes occurring in the Brazilian Amazon. My research today continues to focus on attempts to forge sustainable development in that region. Policy directives in this area have often privileged a static image of forested environments, their biodiversity, indigenous cultures, and economies, as some ideal form to be replicated throughout the region among all human groups. Such of view of sustainable development masks what are dynamic political economic and biogeographical processes that have developed as people, institutions, and components of the natural landscape react to one another in an increasingly disturbed rainforest and savanna environment. I argue our research must focus on these dynamics that will determine the success of efforts to alter the currently destructive relationship between people and the humid tropical environment.

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Jude Kasten

Jude works for the KARS program as a numerical analyst and all-purpose data modeler, and he has much experience working with MATLAB, ESRI ArcMap, and ERDAS Imagine software. The focus of Jude's work at KARS involves using remote sensing data for agricultural applications such as crop yield forecasting, but his responsibilities extend to database management, hydrologic modeling, land cover change detection, ecological modeling, and whatever else crosses his path.

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Marcos Fava Neves

Possui graduação em Engenharia Agronômica pela Universidade de São Paulo (1991), mestrado em Administração pela Universidade de São Paulo (1995) e doutorado em Administração pela Universidade de São Paulo (1999). Professor livre-docente da Universidade de São Paulo (2004). Atualmente é Professor Titular do Departamento de Administração da FEA-RP/USP (2009). Tem experiência na área de Administração, com ênfase em Estratégia e Marketing, com aplicações em Agronegócios e Alimentos, atuando principalmente nos seguintes temas: Marketing Estratégico, Redes (Networks), Planejamento e Gestão Estratégica de Marketing (PGEM) e Canais de Distribuição.

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Tyler Link

I am a first year graduate student in the Geography department at Kansas State University. My research interests involve land use changes in Brazil. I received my undergraduate degree in Geography with minors in Leadership, American Ethnic Studies, and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems from Kansas State University in the fall of 2012.

I grew up on a small ranch just west of Manhattan. I enjoy watching and playing basketball, fishing, helping my dad on the ranch, and volunteering at the Douglas Center’s after school program. Last year I volunteered at the Project Rescue Amazon Youth orphanage in Jacundá, Pará Brazil. The experience was the great opportunity to pursue my passions of helping children and to learn more about Brazil.

Ana Claudia Santana

I have an economic degree from University of Brasilia, Brazil. I am a GRA PhD Student at the Kansas State University under the supervision of Professor Jason Bergtold. Before starting my PhD I was a Master Research Assistant at the Brazilian National Institute for Applied Economics were I published papers and a book chapter in the area of health economics. I received my Msc in Applied Economics from the University of Sao Paulo – ESALQ where I concentrated my studies on land use in the Cerrado. My research at that time focused on the controversial laws that demand that landowners conserve an area of their lands as Legal Reserves (LR).

Gabriel Granco

Born in Paulínia, State of São Paulo, Brazil. I did his undergraduate in Economic Sciences at the University of São Paulo. I also have a Master's Degree in Applied Economics from the same University. After graduation, I worked for the Brazilian think-tank ICONE. I am currently a PhD Student in the Department of Geography at K-State.


National Science Foundation

Proposal Land Change in Brazil's Cerrado: ethanol and sugarcane expansion at the farm and industry scale.

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein


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