Analysis of profitability of conservation tillage for a soybean monoculture associated with corn as an off-season crop
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The increasing demand for food and the need to reduce the environmental impacts of agricultural production in the face of population growth make conservation practices a valuable alternative to increase the sustainability of agriculture. The adoption of these practices, important for food production in emerging economies, increases the feasibility of production on small and intermediate farms in ways that improve social equity. The purpose of this study was to compare the economic feasibility of a no-till soybean monoculture and a no-till soybean/corn (on/off-season) rotation in Brazil. Unlike other studies, a discounted cash flow was combined with a direct cost system, in order to compare the results for farms of different sizes. The results indicate that the larger the farm is, the greater the optimization of production and fixed cost reduction for a set of investments in fixed assets. Although the net present value and internal rate of return were found to be negative for all treatments due to the need for high investment, areas of 60 and 90 hectares generated positive operational cash flow, representing positive profitability for small and intermediate-sized farms. The break-even point was over 100 ha, and the return on investment for 90 ha farms was 11.9% per year.