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Livestock contribute directly i. More efficient management of grazing lands and of manure can have a direct impact in decreasing emissions. Improving efficiency of livestock production through better breeding, health interventions or improving fertility can also decrease GHG emissions through decreasing the number of livestock required per unit product. Increasing the energy density of the diet has a dual effect, decreasing both direct emissions and the numbers of livestock per unit product, but, as the demands for food increase in response to increasing human population and a better diet in some developing countries, there is increasing competition for land for food v.

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Focus on sustainable meat production, our production workers and animal welfare

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Help us improve our products. Sign up to take part. A Nature Research Journal. Agriculture is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas GHG emissions and must feature in efforts to reduce emissions.

Organic farming might contribute to this through decreased use of farm inputs and increased soil carbon sequestration, but it might also exacerbate emissions through greater food production elsewhere to make up for lower organic yields. To date there has been no rigorous assessment of this potential at national scales. We predict major shortfalls in production of most agricultural products against a conventional baseline. Direct GHG emissions are reduced with organic farming, but when increased overseas land use to compensate for shortfalls in domestic supply are factored in, net emissions are greater.

Enhanced soil carbon sequestration could offset only a small part of the higher overseas emissions. Organic farming is often suggested as a solution to the negative environmental effects of current food production 1.

Reduced farm inputs and more soil carbon sequestration may alter local GHG budgets favourably. But this must be set against the need for increased production and associated land conversion elsewhere as a result of lower crop and livestock yields under organic methods. Past studies of the potential of organic farming to mitigate GHG emissions have produced mixed results 2. For example, Williams et al.

Conversely, a Swiss study, which considered entire crop rotations and less-intensive modes of production than Williams et al.

Studies comparing organic and non-organic livestock production have also yielded mixed results. In dairy production, reduced use of inputs per tonne of milk under organic management is offset by lower milk yields and lower feed conversion ratios 3 , 5. Whereas organic beef and sheep production systems can have greater environmental efficiencies as a result of the replacement of manufactured nitrogen N fertiliser with biologically-fixed N from forage legumes 6 , 7 , 8.

In organic poultry production, reduced productivities and low feed conversion ratios considerably reduce environmental efficiencies 9 , 10 , Similarly, organic pig production tends to have lower environmental efficiencies per tonne of product due to lower stocking densities and less output per hectare 12 , Even where environmental efficiency per hectare is improved, organic systems require more land per tonne of product as a result of lower yields: Williams et al. The most recent attempt to quantify the GHG mitigation potential of organic farming at a national scale was made by Audsley et al.

However, the emissions associated with the additional land use changes overseas required to meet UK supply shortfalls were not considered. In an earlier study 16 , we developed a model to estimate potential maximum food production from all agriculture—crops and livestock—in England and Wales under organic management. In this paper we extend this analysis to estimate effects on national GHG balances. We assess the impacts of conversion of all agriculture to organic farming using the Agri-LCA models developed by Williams et al.

This includes carbon dioxide CO 2 emissions from fossil energy use in farm operations and in the production and transport of farm inputs and outputs, as well as emissions of methane CH 4 and nitrous oxide N 2 O as functions of soil conditions, nutrient management and livestock variables Methods.

We improved on the Audsley et al. We also estimate uncertainties in our calculations using Monte Carlo analyses. In doing so we provide the most comprehensive national-scale assessment to-date of the potential land use, production and GHG impacts of up-scaling organic agriculture. The decrease is due to smaller crop yields per unit of land area under organic management, and the need to introduce fertility-building grass leys with nitrogen-fixing legumes within crop rotations. The latter requirement is a farming system-level effect that is not captured in crop-level comparisons 16 , 17 , Projected food production under conventional and organic farming methods.

Data of Smith et al. Source Data are provided as a Source Data file. Increased diversity of crop rotations under organic management means total vegetable production is maintained Edible protein production increases in arable areas, particularly in the east and north east of England, through increases in ruminant livestock and legume production Production of organic oilseed rape OSR decreases substantially, primarily because of a much smaller cultivated area due to the relatively low yield of organic OSR compared to both conventional OSR and organic alternatives.

The increase in legume and potato production is a result of an increase in the cultivated area: legumes for biological N fixation and potatoes both for weed control and because of their high ME yield. Total sugar beet production decreased, but, due to its high ME yield, it reached its upper local limit in parts of eastern England, which we imposed to restrict expansion away from major processing centres For most crops, the projected decreases in output are considerably greater than might be expected solely from the displacement of crops with leys in organic rotations.

The production of minor cereals, such as oats and rye, increases, but this is not sufficient to offset the losses of wheat and barley. Numbers of grazing livestock sheep and beef cattle less dairy increase, because of the increase in feed availability from leys.

But the volume of meat produced did not increase in proportion, as a result of lower carcass weights and longer finishing times under organic management. Numbers of monogastric livestock pigs and poultry and associated meat production fell sharply as a result of lower stocking rates and availability of concentrated feed. Dairy cattle numbers and milk production decrease due to greater reliance on concentrated feeds than grazing livestock and hence greater sensitivity to N availability, cropping area and cereal yields.

The lower GHG emissions under organic cropping are largely due to replacement of N fertiliser with biological N fixation in leys, resulting in less CO 2 and N 2 O from fertiliser manufacture and less N 2 O per unit of production 3 , 4 , We concentrate on N in our analysis, and not on other plant nutrients, because N is required in the greatest quantities and its inputs and outputs are the most sensitive to differences between conventional and organic systems.

However, balances of P, K and other nutrients must also be maintained, and we therefore account for the GHGs associated with extracting and applying the P and K minerals commonly used in organic systems to maintain balances.

GHG emissions per unit production under conventional and organic farming methods. Production is expressed in tonnes t of total metabolised energy.

Emissions due to land use change overseas to compensate for shortfalls in home production, and enhanced soil carbon sequestration under organic methods, are not allowed for. Organic dairy, beef and sheep production have lower total GHG emissions per tonne of product, although greater forage intake increases CH 4 emission. Less N fertiliser use in organic farming gives N 2 O and fossil energy use savings per tonne of product.

Exceptions are crops receiving less N fertiliser in conventional farming beans, oats , organic crops requiring flame weeding carrots and organic vegetable crops with lower marketable yields potatoes, onions. Emissions per unit production are greater for some organic crops, such as field beans, due to increased N leaching and nitrification-denitrification losses, because more must be grown on heavy wet soils. However, a large proportion of field beans grown would have to be exported because of low rates of domestic consumption, and we allow for this in the model with a maximum limit on production, as for potatoes.

Oats and spring barley, which require less manufactured N fertiliser than other cereals, have greater GHG emissions per unit production under organic management because yields are smaller. Lower marketable yields in organic potato cropping also lead to greater emissions per unit of product Emissions are also greater for organic crops requiring higher fossil fuel input in their cultivation, such as organic carrots requiring flame weeding.

Organic pig production results in lower GHG emissions per unit of production because outdoor organic systems use less fossil energy in housing and there are no CH 4 emissions from slurry storage; however, N 2 O emissions increase as a result of greater leaching and denitrification from organic manures.

In common with previous studies, we find that poultry meat and egg production generates greater emissions under organic management due to poorer feed conversion ratios, longer rearing times, higher mortality rates and greater leaching losses compared to conventional free range and fully housed systems 9 , Organic dairy, beef and sheep production results in lower total GHG emissions per unit of production, as a result of the increased efficiency of forage production under organic management, although greater forage intake increases the total CH 4 contribution.

It shows that the direct emissions associated with organic crop Fig. This is a slightly lower estimate of the effect of conversion to organic farming than in Audsley et al. Note LUC losses and CS gains both only apply over the first few decades following conversion, however a flat rate is applied here. However, the picture is very different when we allow for, first, CO 2 emissions from land use change overseas to make up for shortfalls in home production under organic methods, and second, enhanced soil C sequestration under organic methods at home and overseas, as shown in Fig.

The next two sections give our rationale for how we have done this. Carbon sequestration rates are expected to be greater under organic farming because of greater use of manures and slurry linked to more integrated management of livestock and crops, and longer crop rotations with leys involving forage legumes Although in conventional systems there is generally a greater separation of livestock from crops, farmyard manures will mostly be applied to land somewhere, so the net transfer of C from the atmosphere to land would be about the same 25 , On the other hand, excessive manure applications in livestock-dense areas under conventional management leads to over-fertilisation and suboptimal C sequestration We estimate potential C sequestration under organic management using rates of change in soil C derived from the National Soil Inventory of England and Wales for different land use classes by Kirk and Bellamy 28 , and assuming the change from conventional to organic farming was equivalent to a change from continuous arable cropping to rotational grass Methods.

This gives sequestration rates of 0. We used this as the upper rate in the calculations for Fig. For comparison, in a literature review of experiments comparing conventional and organic farming, Gattinger et al. However, most of these comparisons involved very high rates of external organic matter inputs to the organic systems, up to 4 times those under conventional farming We therefore use Gattinger et al.

It should be noted that the bulk of any C sequestration will be limited to the first decade or two following conversion, because any given soil has a finite capacity to accumulate C depending on its characteristics and local environmental conditions 25 , 29 , A new steady-state soil C content will be reached after a few decades when rates of decomposition in the soil at the higher C content match the increased rates of C inputs.

We estimate that the land area needed to make up for shortfalls in domestic production is nearly five times the current overseas land area used for food for England and Wales Fig. Total agricultural land-use is therefore 1. The difference reflects the high conventional crop yields and livestock productivity in the UK compared with countries using less intensive, lower-yielding farming, and the correspondingly greater production penalties in conversion to organic methods Overseas land area needed for imported food.

The area required to offset shortfalls in domestic production under organic methods is over five times that under conventional methods, largely due to imports of oilseeds, pork, poultry meat, eggs and milk.

Note only the products listed in Fig. The consequences for net GHG emissions will depend on the nature of the land use change. If it entails conversion of existing natural or semi-natural vegetation or pasture to crops, the cost will be greater than for increased production from existing arable land, which will have already lost C compared with its original natural state, and which might be expected to sequester some C from the atmosphere under organic management.

The emissions associated with land use changes will apply over a similar period to the potential gains from enhanced soil C sequestration i. We compare three ways of assessing this and associated soil C sequestration: first, if all the additional production is on land formerly under grass, with no associated C sequestration; second, if half the additional production is on land formerly under grass, with a low rate of C sequestration; and third, if a quarter of the additional production is on land formerly under grass, with a high rate of C sequestration Methods.

In addition, there is the opportunity cost of the amount of C that could be sequestered if the land were instead used to maximise its C storage potential, for example by converting it to productive forest. This aspect is considered by Searchinger et al. We also calculated this Methods. The results Fig. The results show that widespread adoption of organic farming practices would lead to net increases in GHG emissions as a result of lower crop and livestock yields and hence the need for additional production and associated land use changes overseas.

It is not obvious how additional overseas land could be found, without expanding the existing area of tilled land by ploughing up grassland.

Mitigating climate change: the role of domestic livestock.

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Jennifer Cole. Planetary Health - the idea that human health and the health of the environment are inextricably linked - encourages the preservation and sustainability of natural systems for the benefit of human health.

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The greenhouse gas impacts of converting food production in England and Wales to organic methods

A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions for a given person, place, event or product. Carbon footprints are created using a process called life cycle assessment. Life cycle assessment or LCA is a method of resource accounting where quantitative measures of inputs, outputs and impacts of a product are determined. There are several standard approaches for developing a life cycle assessment including the International Dairy Federation, the U. Different researchers may get different results when performing a LCA on the same product. This can happen for many reasons:. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Author: Crystal A. Harrison — WSU, J.

Meat and Dairy Production

Agriculture is one of the most important human activities in sub-Saharan Africa. Besides being the mainstay of food supply, the agricultural sector is the major source of employment and income. Thus agriculture, directly or indirectly, forms an important component of the livelihoods of more than million people in the region. The contribution of agriculture to the gross domestic product GDP of sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is estimated to be 32 percent. According to Winrock , if non-monetized contributions draught power and manure were to be included, reflecting the importance of integrated crop-livestock farming systems, the contribution of livestock to agricultural GDP would increase by 50 percent, bringing the livestock component of agricultural GDP to about 35 percent.

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Livestock is commonly defined as domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce labor and commodities such as meat , eggs , milk , fur , leather , and wool. The term is sometimes used to refer solely to those that are bred for consumption, while other times it refers only to farmed ruminants , such as cattle and goats. Poultry and fish are not included in the category. The breeding, maintenance, and slaughter of livestock, known as animal husbandry , is a component of modern agriculture that has been practiced in many cultures since humanity's transition to farming from hunter-gatherer lifestyles.

Carbon Footprints

The Livestock Development Section is responsible for carrying out two main functions namely, Animal Health and Animal husbandry of several species cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, rabbits and honeybees nation-wide. The units mission is to develop and promote animal production systems and to encourage the use of local resources utilizing sustainable and reliable feeding programs, in the production of healthy livestock for providing meat and meat products all geared towards food security, self sufficiency and lowering the food import bill, for all Dominicans. The livestock Development Unit is an integral part of the Division of Agriculture, Regional Teams system and also works closely with the following units:. Photo Gallery Contact Us.

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Dairy, Veterinary & Animal Research

Vion has been engaged in corporate social responsibility for quite some years. Whereas food safety is a condition sine qua non, we sincerely aspire to produce meat respecting animal welfare and a sustainable environment. Food in general and meat in particular is a popular subject of numerous societal debates. These debates can be grouped into four major themes:. At Vion, we have decided not to shy away from these debates, but to participate actively in the societal dialogue on these relevant themes. We intend to stimulate the discussion with, and the creativity of our stakeholders on these relevant items. Together, we want to develop solutions to guide our industry to implement best practices.

Green house gas (GHG) emissions per unit of livestock product 1 GHG (kg CO () estimated the GHG emissions (in terms of CO 2 e) of food products to the.

Citation of this paper. Although the livestock sector has experienced phenomenal growth, different regions are responding differently to the livestock revolution. The need for indicators to monitor the livestock sector arises from the fact that livestock needs to fulfill various goals and that performance of the sector may be different from region to region, between countries and within different parts of a country.

Dead animal disposal

Feeding the world in a sustainable way is one of our most pressing challenges in the coming decades. Meat plays a pivotal role in this. Meat is an important source of nutrition for many people around the world.

Regret for the inconvenience: we are taking measures to prevent fraudulent form submissions by extractors and page crawlers. Received: May 02, Published: August 2, Citation: Wilson RT.

The early humans first domesticated animals as a convenient means of meeting immediate needs for food clothing and transport. Subsequently, for many thousands of years, livestock remained only one component of a regionally self-sufficient and basically sustainable method to satisfy human demands.

Perfect mobile solution for infected Swine, Poultry, Cattle or any other farm waste. With medical-grade sterilization and a significantly low energy footprint, the mobile animal waste treating system brings a completely new technology to the animal carcass disposal process. Perfect solution to control any animal diseases such as swine disease, poultry disease, cow disease within this we can specifically mention these diseases: swine fever, bird flu, Avian influenza, Newcastle disease, Bovine Tuberculosis, Mad Cow Disease and the porcine virus. We provide mobile animal carcass solutions to safely dispose of your fallen stock, animal carcasses or any animal by-products from your farm.

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