Showing results for: Grazing and grassland
In a debate between George Monbiot and L hunter Lovins in The Guardian, the issue of impacts and evidence of livestock grazing is discussed. Monbiots article “Eat more meat and save the world: the latest implausible farming miracle” can be found here while L. Hunter Lovins’ article “Why George Monbiot is wrong: grazing livestock can save the world” can be read here.
The International Dairy Federation (IDF), the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the IFCN Dairy Research Network (IFCN) have collaborated on an extensive study on international dairy feeding systems to explore how differences within these systems for dairy cows, water buffaloes, sheep, and goats and between large and smallholders can affect a range of issues - from the nutritional content of the milk to the level of GHG emissions involved in the production process. Each of the three organizations had differing stakes in the research.
Despite a focus on reducing fossil fuel consumption, cuts in these emissions by themselves will not sufficiently address climate change.
This comparative five year study on grasslands suggests that allowing grazing animals to crop the excess growth of of grasses that, due to fertization, grow too vigorously, can counteract the threats these grasses present to the other plants that contribute to the biodiversity of native prairies.
Brighter Green has released a policy paper exploring the growth of industrial dairy systems in India, China, and countries of Southeast Asia. It explores the trend toward increased dairy consumption and production and argues that the growth of industrial systems results in severe consequences for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and rural economies. The report examines systemic changes in Asia while also providing country-specific case study analyses of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
New evidence suggests that a chemical mechanism operating in the roots of a tropical grass used for livestock feed holds enormous promise for reducing the emission of nitrous oxide. N2O is the most harmful of the warming gases, with a global warming potential 296 times that of carbon dioxide. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the livestock sector accounts for 65 percent of the nitrous oxide emitted.
This publication by FAO examines how fruit and vegetable wastes (FVW) could be used as livestock feed. The demand for livestock products is rapidly increasing in most developing countries but in many cases there are severe feed deficits. The sustainability of feed production systems is being challenged due to biophysical factors such as land, soil and water scarcity, food-fuel-feed competition, ongoing global warming and frequent and drastic weather events, along with increased competition for arable land and non-renewable resources such as fossil carbon-sources, water and phosphorus.
Allan Savory of the Savory Institute has given a TED talk that outlines his ‘Holistic Management’ approach.
In brief, holistic management is based on the idea that large herds of livestock, far from causing desertification, can reverse it, by stimulating plant growth and water retention while also enhancing soil carbon sequestration (so reducing GHG emissions).
A study published in the journal Small Ruminant Research notes that many breeds of goat are at great risk of disappearing. A study from the Regional Service of Agro-Food Research and Development (SERIDA) analysed the global situation - the state of different breeds, the multiple implications of their conservation, their interaction with other animal species, and the consequences of goat grazing from an environmental viewpoint. The authors found that the biggest loss in the genetic resources of indigenous goats has been observed in Europe.
A report published by the National Trust entitled What’s your beef? Compares the cradle-to-farm-gate emissions of ten tenanted National Trust farms, selected as representing a cross section of different beef production systems, including 4 organic, 4 conventional but extensive, and 2 semi intensive farms.
This is an interesting article about a farmer’s attempt to improve the sustainability of the farm by basing production on a dual purpose dairy/beef breed, based on grass-feeding, high welfare and zero waste.
Pelletier N, Pirog R, Rasmussen R (2010). "Comparative life cycle environmental impacts of three beef production strategies in the Upper Midwestern United States", Agricultural Systems 103 (2010) 380–389 This paper compares three US beef rearing systems. Cattle are finished either in: feedlot systems (having received hormone implants); backgrounding systems (also with hormone implants); or on pasture (no implants).
In November 2009 the World Watch Institute released a report arguing that the FAO's estimate of livestock's total contribution to global GHG emissions (18%) is a serious underestimate and that the true footprint of livestock production is around 51% higher.