Action beyond borders

CENIBRA supports water conservation project in Sabinópolis.

A partnership involving the Municipal Administration of Sabinópolis, EMATER, farmers, SAAE, and CENIBRA has contributed to enhancing water infiltration into the soil and brought additional benefits such as soil nutrient preservation and soil loosening in pasture areas. The outcome is greater water availability during the dry season in the Corrente River basin, which supplies water to the local population.

Subsoiling is the main factor behind such favorable results. This technique loosens and breaks up the soil and leads to increased water infiltration, which is a fundamental condition to feed the groundwater reservoir and, subsequently, increase water flow in existing streams during the dry season and mitigate floods during the rainy season.

In addition, soil loosening also helps improve the soil’s physical properties, with positive effects on crop and livestock productivity. In Sabinópolis, subsoiling is being carried out in the Corrente River basin, whose catchment area is approximately 8,000 hectares. About 37.5% of this watershed’s area is used for pasture, with the resulting soil compaction by cattle. The use of subsoiling raises the water supply in drought periods.

Subsoiling is a technique that makes use of an agricultural tractor and an implement called subsoiler, or subsoiling plough, to create furrows along in the ground. Because such furrows follow the terrain’s contour lines, they channel rainwater flowing on the surface.

Sabinópolis has had difficulties supplying water to its urban population in recent years, which has also affected the countryside population, leading to the establishment of a partnership for carrying out subsoiling.

CENIBRA’s contribution to this partnership consists of technical advice, mapping, mobilization of partners, donation of equipment (subsoiler and parts), work effectiveness evaluations, generation of data and images for disseminating the technique and conduction of pilot tests to validate the measures.

According to CENIBRA’s environmental specialist, Sebastião Tomas Carvalho, “subsoiling in pasture areas is a viable alternative for farmers as it helps improve productivity and doesn’t create any risk to the cattle, plus it increases water availability in the dry season. In the longer term, this technique is expected to be adopted throughout the entire Doce River basin, where the current scenario of soil degradation and compaction and the consequent deleterious effects points to a serious water shortage in the future. ”


According to Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural and Livestock Research Corporation), Brazil has approximately 200 million hectares of native or planted pastures, of which an estimated 130 million hectares are degraded and require some corrective measure to be recovered.

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