Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Read the whole paper here: The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America.
to the methane (CH4) produced by rumen fermentation, ruminants are a
source of greenhouse gas (GHG) and are perceived as a problem. We
propose that with appropriate regenerative crop and grazing management,
ruminants not only reduce overall GHG emissions, but also facilitate
provision of essential ecosystem services, increase soil carbon (C)
sequestration, and reduce environmental damage. We tested our
hypothesis by examining biophysical impacts and the magnitude of
all GHG emissions from key agricultural production activities,
including comparisons of arable- and pastoral-based agroecosystems. Our
assessment shows that globally, GHG emissions from domestic
ruminants represent 11.6% (1.58 Gt C y–1) of total anthropogenic
emissions, while cropping and soil-associated emissions contribute 13.7%
(1.86 Gt C y–1). The primary source is soil erosion (1 Gt C y–1), which
in the United States alone is estimated at 1.72 Gt of soil y–1.
Permanent cover of forage plants is highly effective in reducing
soil erosion, and ruminants consuming only grazed forages under
appropriate management result in more C sequestration than emissions.
Incorporating forages and ruminants into regeneratively managed
agroecosystems can elevate soil organic C, improve soil ecological
function by minimizing the damage of tillage and inorganic fertilizers
and biocides, and enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat. We conclude
that to ensure long-term sustainability and ecological resilience of
agroecosystems, agricultural production should be guided by policies and
regenerative management protocols that include ruminant grazing.
Collectively, conservation agriculture supports ecologically healthy,
resilient agroecosystems and simultaneously mitigates large quantities
of anthropogenic GHG emissions.
Read the paper online here: http://www.jswconline.org/content/71/2/156.full.pdf.