Author: Pablo Borrelli – Ovis 21
In a context of global warming, Livestock are blamed for being part of the problem due to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the business.
From various sectors it is proposed to reduce the consumption of meat or directly exclude livestock as an economic activity. The allegations are true for some types of agriculture, but false for regenerative agriculture. Let’s see the great livestock production systems:
• Large breeding. Predominant in Patagonia and around the world, it includes low-input, low-productivity systems. It normally supports low loads, in continuous grazing. It is responsible for the desertification of arid and semi-arid lands, the deforestation of large wooded areas and the systematic use of fire in the subtropics.
Patagonia is a compelling example of the unsustainability of extensive livestock farming, with 30% of fields abandoned, dwindling stocks, industrial crisis and rural depopulation.
• Intensive agriculture. For a long time it was thought that to be profitable a field would need to make more intensive use of inputs. The intensification options include irrigation, planting of pastures and forage crops, fertilization of malini, use of forage reserves, intercropping, use of supplements, etc.
In addition to generating additional costs and reliance on external inputs, escalation increases the company’s total carbon footprint.
Despite being proposed for more than 5 decades, the adoption rate of these practices is low, as it requires more working capital and increases the economic risk.
• Industrial livestock it is at the extreme of intensification with the confinement of animals in feedlots. It has a high carbon footprint, not only due to animal emissions and their effluents, but also due to the food footprint. This form of management does not meet the basic requirements of animal welfare. The chemical composition of meats has a predominance of Omega 6 fatty acids, which have a proven negative effect on health.
This model is heavily dependent on price relationships. It reduces the climate risk, but increases the financial risk due to the decoupling of agricultural and food prices.
• Regenerative cattle It is a new paradigm of livestock production. These are high-yield, low-input models that seemed impossible for the conventional cattle approach.
It is achieved by using Holistic Management or other methods that allow you to alternate grazing events with long rest impulses.
In regenerative livestock, profitability is achieved by increasing social capital (knowledge and commitment of people) and biological capital (biodiversity, capture of rainwater and increase in soil carbon).
Animal welfare finds its highest expression here. The meat is grass finished and has a high content of Omega 3 fatty acids, with a beneficial effect on human health. In Patagonia it has been applied since 2008 in over 400,000 hectares, with excellent results in terms of field regeneration and improvement of the producers’ economy.
How do you define if a property is regenerative or not?
Environmental regeneration can be measured with objective parameters. This makes it possible to distinguish the properties that actually regenerate from those that use the term to obtain commercial advantages.
EOV (Ecological Outcome Verification) was developed by Ovis 21 (www.ovis21.com) and is now used in the Savory Institute Node Network (https://savory.global) to measure regeneration around the world.
A property is regenerating when: increases / maintains soil cover; increases the infiltration of rainwater; enriches the biodiversity of the soil, vegetation and fauna; increases primary productivity (photosynthesis and biomass) with a consequent impact on production; and increases the carbon content in the soil. Regenerative farms fight climate change by sequestering carbon from the air and storing it as organic matter in the soil.
Proteins with negative carbon footprint
Life cycle studies of different proteins available for human consumption agree that traditionally produced beef (partly outdoors and partly outdoors) has the largest known carbon footprint, estimated in about 33 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per kilo of meat.
Poultry and pork meats reduce this value to 6 and 9 kilos, respectively. Fake burgers (soy burgers that mimic meat) reduce this footprint to 4-5 pounds of CO2 for every pound of meat. Soybean paste (tofu) has a 2 pound CO2 footprint.
Principles of regenerative agriculture
It requires thinking holistically and not linearly. It all starts with how you make decisions.
• Biomimetics: It consists of imitating natural design and promoting the full functioning of ecosystem processes. Look for perennial systems, with high biodiversity.
• That rainwater stays where it falls. It recovers the infiltration and water retention capacity of the soil, so that it can be used by plants.
• Promote biologically active soils, with a high percentage of mycorrhizae, which provide natural fertility.
• Incorporate / maintain trees in the production landscape.
• Start the coal pump. Grasslands and meadows function as pumps that sequester carbon from the air and store it in the soil. The grazing planning allows you to optimize this function, alternating periods of loading (rest) and unloading (grazing).
An open day will be held on Thursday 29 December to see the productive results of a company that has been practicing Holistic Management for 6 years. Estancia Fortín Chacabuco, Route N ° 237, km 1628. Contact for registration: Pedro Helling. Telephone 2984291868, symbiosis NODE.
Mail: [email protected]
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