The barren side of Brazil: science, water resources, and the debate on the (in)fertile soils of the Brazilian cerrado, 1892-1942.


Professor, Programa de Pós-graduação em História/ Universidade Federal da Fronteira Sul. Chapecó - SC - Brasil [Email]


This article discusses the relationship between science and the cerrado during the period spanning the publication of a text by Eugenius Warming (1892) and an article by Rawitscher, Ferri, and Rachid (1943), botanists at the University of São Paulo. Warming stated that scarce water resources affected the formation of the characteristic vegetation and low soil fertility in these regions. Arrojado Lisboa, Alberto Sampaio, Philipe Vasconcelos, and Barbosa de Oliveira proposed a variety of plans for economic exploitation of the cerrado. The article from 1943 indicated the rich water resources in the region, which helped to boost agricultural experiments. This article especially emphasizes studies on the diversity of vegetation in the regions containing cerrado-type vegetation formations and debates on the (in)fertility of these soils for large-scale farming.

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