Mário Carvalho was a full professor of General Agriculture at the University of Évora from 1995 until 2020, having retired in November 2020. He currently works as a consultant for agricultural companies.
His activity has been divided between teaching, research and technology transfer among the regional farming community. He began his research program in 1985 addressing low-cost farming systems, with particular emphasis on conservation agriculture, involving studies related to direct seeding, crop residue management, crop rotation, and the efficient use of fertilizers and herbicides. More recently he has extended his research into two new fields. On the one hand, the study of symbioses between soil microbes (mycorrhizae, rhizobia and growth promoting bacteria) always with the perspective of understanding how agronomic practices influence their biodiversity and the preferential associations that are established between these microbes and plants. On the other hand, he has been interested and developed work in precision agriculture, as a way to investigate the variability of crop growth and soil conditions.
In summary it can be said that his research has always been focused on developing solutions to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of agricultural systems in Portugal. Firstly, by understanding how soil function can be improved and thus increase land productivity and reduce input; in improving soil function he was concerned with increasing the organic matter content of the soil, increasing the capacity of the soil to store and supply water to plants, to supply nutrients, and also the crop protection provided by native soil microbes. Secondly, much work has been done to determine the optimal level of factor incorporation and the timeliness of its application.
The extension program, aimed at providing free technical support to farmers to start conservation agriculture systems, started in 1992. It currently manages a group of farmers who call themselves “o clube da directa“. This group is dedicated to the development of sustainable intensification of agro-silvo-pastoral models.
He was the mentor of the agro-environmental measure currently underway to conserve soil and increase the organic matter content of the soil, which involves three commitments by the members: direct seeding, keeping the straw on the ground and crop rotation.
He has published about 120 scientific and technical papers in international and national journals and technical magazines.