Showing results for: Grazing and grassland
This paper reviews the evidence base around using soil organic carbon as a climate change mitigation measure. It notes that such climate solutions encompass both increasing soil carbon in soils that have not reached their maximum possible carbon content, and conserving carbon in soils that already have a high carbon content (thus avoiding losses that might otherwise have taken place).
This report from the UK’s RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission examines four key areas of Devon’s food system: grassland and livestock production, environment and biodiversity, health and thriving communities, and new entrants to farming.
This report from the US-based Breakthrough Institute suggests that increasing the productivity of grazing systems, particularly in lower-income countries, can help to shrink the area of land used as pasture.
This article on the environmental impacts of different types of animal feed (including fishmeal, soy, fava beans, algae and various forage crops) features commentary from FCRN member Sam Smith, who has contributed to the Feed Compass work by Forum for the Future.
71% of European Union farmland is used to feed livestock and 18% to 20% of the EU’s total budget goes to livestock farms, according to this report by NGO Greenpeace.
A new method for monitoring nutrient concentrations in pasture in real time - using a small near-infrared spectroscopy device - could allow farmers to improve productivity by adjusting livestock grazing patterns, according to this paper.
This paper compared soil moisture and biomass growth between pasture both with and without photovoltaic solar panel arrays. While average soil moisture was similar across the fields with and without solar panels, the field with the solar panels had more variable soil moisture: directly underneath the solar panels, persistent stores of soil water were available throughout the growing season. Without solar panels, the pasture experienced water stress in the middle of summer.
This book, by David Lindenmayer, Damian Michael, Mason Crane, Daniel Florance and Emma Burns, describes best practice approaches for restoring Australian farm woodlands for birds, mammals and reptiles.
Birds catch insects less frequently in silvopastures (grazing land with substantial tree cover) than in forest fragments, according to a study in the Colombian Andes. This suggests that silvopasture provides relatively lower quality habitat for the bird species studied. However, the paper proposes some measures to improve the quality of silvopastures as habitats for birds, including encouraging certain tree species and forming particular microhabitats, such as vine tangles and hanging dead leaves.
If the US were to shift to entirely grass-finished beef (vs. grain-finished), then the US cattle population would have to increase by 30% relative to today, because grass-fed cattle gain weight more slowly than those fattened in feedlots. Furthermore, existing pastures would have to become 40%-370% more productive to avoid converting more natural habitat to farmland or competition with human food supply. Methane emissions from the cattle’s digestive systems might increase by 43%, again because of slower growth rates.
FCRN member Eric Toensmeier, of Yale University, has written an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he discusses the potential of silvopasture - including trees on grazing land - to reduce agricultural emissions. Trees increase production by providing shade to livestock, according to the op-ed.
This study by researchers in the US used a theoretical approach to work out how much beef could be produced in the US if the cows were raised solely on pasturelands and by-products, and what the environmental and nutritional ramifications of repurposing the freed up cropland would be.
In November 2017, in response to the FCRN’s report Grazed and Confused, the Eating Better Alliance brought together a range of researchers and civil society to discuss pasture farming and in particular its contribution to climate change. The meeting began with a presentation by Tara Garnett. It was organised because Eating Better was keen to have a discussion about the implications of this research for civil society messaging toward ‘less and better’ meat and dairy, and farming in pasture-based livestock systems.