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Impact Of Soybean Expansion On Water Footprint In The Amazon Under Climate Change Scenarios

Congress: 2015
Author(s):

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 6: Links with the energy, food and environmental sectors,
AbstractOne of the most problematic issues in natural environment is agricultural expansion and intensification (Neill et al.,2013). The expansion of soybean fields and the subsequent land use change is remarkably increasing in countries like Brazil in the last decades. The increase in water and nutrient use in relation to soybean production are known as potential sources of contamination (Lathuillière et al., 2014) and can have negative impacts in the adjacent water bodies. These impacts can be intensified by the projected Climate Change effects in tropical areas.

The water footprint (WF) is an indicator of freshwater use that looks at both direct and indirect water use of a consumer or producer. The water footprint is defined as the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community. Water use is measured in terms of water volumes consumed (evaporated or incorporated into a product) and/or polluted per unit of time. (WFN, 2014).

In this abstract we present a Water Footprint Assessment developed to account WF related to the production of soybean (Glycine max) based on globally available data. We applied the methodology in the Tapajos River, an Amazonian region in Brazil where a large expansion of soybean in deforested areas has taken place and production has been intensified in the last decades (Lathuillière et al., 2014). We identified hotspots (potential unsustainable areas) according to the Water Footprint Network methodology (WFN, 2014) and calculated WF with globally available current data (2010). The WF was spatially plotted along the river basin with ArcGIS in order to assess the current impact of soybean expansion (baseline). We also calculated potential areas of change in WF 2050 projection by using a land use change scenario (Ssp5 scenario) that includes climate change effects (Van Eupen et al., 2013).

Preliminary results indicate that soybean expansion is threatening sustainability locally. Results show an average increase in the Tapajos river basin WF values in 2050 projection in comparison to baseline WF results. The values are remarkably higher in the North-East and South-East of the basin, which coincide with areas where more agricultural fields and more roads are concentrated. This increase will affect nature protected areas, showing the potential conflict between soybean expansion and nature protection.

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