Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Roles of instrumented farm-scale trials in trade-off assessments of pasture-based ruminant production systems

  • T. Takahashi (a1) (a2), P. Harris (a1), M. S. A. Blackwell (a1), L. M. Cardenas (a1), A. L. Collins (a1), J. A. J. Dungait (a1), J. M. B. Hawkins (a1), T. H. Misselbrook (a1), G. A. McAuliffe (a1) (a2), J. N. McFadzean (a1) (a3), P. J. Murray (a1), R. J. Orr (a1), M. J. Rivero (a1), L. Wu (a1) and M. R. F. Lee (a1) (a2)...
Abstract

For livestock production systems to play a positive role in global food security, the balance between their benefits and disbenefits to society must be appropriately managed. Based on the evidence provided by field-scale randomised controlled trials around the world, this debate has traditionally centred on the concept of economic-environmental trade-offs, of which existence is theoretically assured when resource allocation is perfect on the farm. Recent research conducted on commercial farms indicates, however, that the economic-environmental nexus is not nearly as straightforward in the real world, with environmental performances of enterprises often positively correlated with their economic profitability. Using high-resolution primary data from the North Wyke Farm Platform, an intensively instrumented farm-scale ruminant research facility located in southwest United Kingdom, this paper proposes a novel, information-driven approach to carry out comprehensive assessments of economic-environmental trade-offs inherent within pasture-based cattle and sheep production systems. The results of a data-mining exercise suggest that a potentially systematic interaction exists between ‘soil health’, ecological surroundings and livestock grazing, whereby a higher level of soil organic carbon (SOC) stock is associated with a better animal performance and less nutrient losses into watercourses, and a higher stocking density with greater botanical diversity and elevated SOC. We contend that a combination of farming system-wide trials and environmental instrumentation provides an ideal setting for enrolling scientifically sound and biologically informative metrics for agricultural sustainability, through which agricultural producers could obtain guidance to manage soils, water, pasture and livestock in an economically and environmentally acceptable manner. Priority areas for future farm-scale research to ensure long-term sustainability are also discussed.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Roles of instrumented farm-scale trials in trade-off assessments of pasture-based ruminant production systems
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Roles of instrumented farm-scale trials in trade-off assessments of pasture-based ruminant production systems
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Roles of instrumented farm-scale trials in trade-off assessments of pasture-based ruminant production systems
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
References
Hide All
Agouridis, CT, Workman, SR, Warner, RC and Jennings, GD 2005. Livestock grazing management impacts on stream water quality: a review. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 41, 591606.
Antle, JM, Stoorvogel, JJ and Valdivia, RO 2014. New parsimonious simulation methods and tools to assess future food and environmental security of farm populations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 369, 20120280.
Broom, DM, Galindo, FA and Murgueitio, E 2013. Sustainable, efficient livestock production with high biodiversity and good welfare for animals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280, 2025.
Daley, CA, Abbott, A, Doyle, PS, Nader, GA and Larson, S 2010. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content of grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal 9, 10.
Dalgaard, T, Halberg, N and Porter, JR 2001. A model for fossil energy use in Danish agriculture used to compare organic and conventional farming. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 87, 5165.
de Olde, EM, Oudshoorn, FW, Sørensen, CAG, Bokkers, EAM and de Boer, IJM 2016. Assessing sustainability at farm-level: lessons learned from a comparison of tools in practice. Ecological Indicators 66, 391404.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) 2017. Farm business survey region reports (Table 10). Retrieved on 1 June 2017 from http://www.farmbusinesssurvey.co.uk/regional.
Dobermann, A and Nelson, R (ed.) 2013. Solutions for sustainable agriculture and food systems. United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Paris, France.
Dungait, JAJ, Bol, R and Evershed, RP 2005. Quantification of dung carbon incorporation in a temperate grassland soil following spring application using bulk stable carbon isotope determinations. Isotopes in Environmental and Health Studies 41, 311.
Edwards-Jones, G, Plassmann, K and Harris, IM 2009. Carbon footprinting of lamb and beef production systems: insights from an empirical analysis of farms in Wales, UK. Journal of Agricultural Science 147, 707719.
Eisler, M, Lee, M and Martin, GB 2017. The Global Farm Platform initiative: towards sustainable livestock systems. Animal (forthcoming). Retrieved on 1 June 2017 from http://www.globalfarmplatform.org.
Eisler, MC, Lee, MRF, Tarlton, JF, Martin, GB, Beddington, J, Dungait, JAJ, Greathead, H, Liu, J, Mathew, S, Miller, H, Misselbrook, T, Murray, P, Vinod, VK, Van Saun, R and Winter, M 2014. Steps to sustainable livestock. Nature 507, 3234.
Eshel, G, Shepon, A, Makov, T and Milo, R 2014. Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, 11996–12001.
Farrell, MJ 1957. The measurement of productive efficiency. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society A 120, 253290.
Franzluebbers, AJ 2010. Will we allow soil carbon to feed our needs? Carbon Management 1, 237251.
Gerber, PJ, Steinfeld, H, Henderson, B, Mottet, A, Opio, C, Dijkman, J, Falcucci, A and Tempio, G 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock: a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
Grimm, KA, Sullivan, KM, Alasfoor, D, Parvanta, I, Suleiman, AJ, Kaur, M, Al-Hatmi, FO and Ruth, LJ 2012. Iron-fortified wheat flour and iron deficiency among women. Food Nutritional Bulletin 33, 180185.
Heinz, G and Hautzinger, P 2007. Meat processing technology. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bangkok, Thailand.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2006. IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories: volume 4 agriculture, forestry and other land use. IPCC, Hayama, Japan.
Jones, AK, Jones, DL and Cross, P 2014. The carbon footprint of lamb: sources of variation and opportunities for mitigation. Agricultural Systems 123, 97107.
Jost, L 2007. Partitioning diversity into independent alpha and beta components. Ecology 88, 24272439.
Kemp, DR, Han, G, Hou, X, Michalk, DL, Hou, F, Wu, J and Zhang, Y 2013. Innovative grassland management systems for environmental and livelihood benefits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, 8369–8374.
Klapwijk, CJ, van Wijk, MT, Rosenstock, TS, van Asten, PJA, Thornton, PK and Giller, KE 2014. Analysis of trade-offs in agricultural systems: current status and way forward. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 6, 110115.
Leip, A, Billen, G, Garnier, J, Grizzetti, B, Lassaletta, L, Reis, S, Simpson, D, Sutton, MA, de Vries, W, Weiss, F and Westhoek, H 2015. Impacts of European livestock production: nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus and greenhouse gas emissions, land-use, water eutrophication and biodiversity. Environmental Research Letters 10, 115004.
Lymbery, P 2014. Farmageddon: the true cost of cheap meat. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.
McAuliffe, GA, Takahashi, T, Mogensen, L, Hermansen, JE, Sage, CL, Chapman, DV and Lee, MRF 2017. Environmental trade-offs of pig production systems under varied operational efficiencies. Journal of Cleaner Production 165, 11631173.
McAuliffe, GA, Takahashi, T, Orr, RJ, Harris, P and Lee, MRF 2018. Distributions of emissions intensity for individual beef cattle reared on pasture-based production systems. Journal of Cleaner Production 171, 16721680.
McGonigle, DF, Burke, SP, Collins, AL, Gartner, R, Haft, MR, Harris, RC, Haygarth, PM, Hedges, MC, Hiscock, KM and Lovett, AA 2014. Developing demonstration test catchments as a platform for transdisciplinary land management research in England and Wales. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 16, 16181628.
Misselbrook, TH, Sutton, MA and Scholefield, D 2004. A simple process-based model for estimating ammonia emissions from agricultural land after fertilizer applications. Soil Use and Management 20, 365372.
Orr, RJ, Murray, PJ, Eyles, CJ, Blackwell, MSA, Cardenas, LM, Collins, AL, Dungait, JAJ, Goulding, KWT, Griffith, BA, Gurr, SJ, Harris, P, Hawkins, JMB, Misselbrook, TH, Rawlings, C, Shepherd, A, Sint, H, Takahashi, T, Tozer, KN, Whitmore, AP, Wu, L and Lee, MRF 2016. The North Wyke Farm Platform: effect of temperate grassland farming systems on soil moisture contents, runoff and associated water quality dynamics. European Journal of Soil Science 67, 374385.
Peukert, S, Griffith, BA, Murray, PJ, Macleod, CJA and Brazier, RE 2014. Intensive management in grasslands causes diffuse water pollution at the farm scale. Journal of Environmental Quality 43, 20092023.
Peukert, S, Griffith, BA, Murray, PJ, Macleod, CJA and Brazier, RE 2016. Spatial variation in soil properties and diffuse losses between and within grassland fields with similar short-term management. European Journal of Soil Science 67, 386396.
Pretorius, B, Schonfeldt, HC and Hall, N 2016. Total and haem iron content lean meat cuts and the contribution to the diet. Food Chemistry 193, 97101.
Public Health England 2015. McCance and Widdowson’s composition of foods integrated dataset. Retrieved on 1 June 2017 from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid.
R Core Team 2017. R: a language and environment for statistical computing. Retrieved on 1 June 2017 from http://www.r-project.org.
Rodwell, JS 2006. National vegetation classification: users’ handbook. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, UK.
Rural Payment Agency (RPA) 2011. Beef carcase classification scheme: guidance on dressing specifications and carcase classification. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Reading, UK.
Ryan, M, Hennessy, T, Buckley, C, Dillon, EJ, Donnellan, T, Hanrahan, K and Moran, B 2016. Developing farm-level sustainability indicators for Ireland using the Teagasc National Farm Survey. Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research 55, 112125.
Schaafsma, G 2000. The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. Journal of Nutrition 130, 1865S1867S.
Smil, V 2013. Eating meat: constants and changes. Global Food Security 3, 6771.
Smith, A, Snapp, S, Chikowo, R, Thorne, P, Bekunda, M and Glover, J 2017. Measuring sustainable intensification in smallholder agroecosystems: a review. Global Food Security 12, 127138.
Springmann, M, Mason-D’Croz, D, Robinson, S, Wiebe, K, Godfray, HCJ, Rayner, M and Scarborough, P 2017. Mitigation potential and global health impacts from emissions pricing of food commodities. Nature Climate Change 7, 6974.
Steinfeld, H, Gerber, P, Wassenaar, T, Castel, V, Rosales, M and de Haan, C 2006. Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
Tscharntke, T, Clough, Y, Wanger, TC, Jackson, L, Motzke, I, Perfecto, I, Vandermeer, J and Whitbread, A 2012. Global food security, biodiversity conservation and the future of agricultural intensification. Biological Conservation 151, 5359.
Warris, PD 2000. Meat science, 2nd edition. CABI, Wallingford, UK.
Webb, J and Misselbrook, TH 2004. A mass-flow model of ammonia emissions from UK livestock production. Atmospheric. Environment 38, 21632176.
Wilkinson, JM 2011. Re-defining efficiency of feed use by livestock. Animal 5, 10141022.
Wilkinson, JM and Lee, MRF 2017. Use of human-edible animal feeds by ruminant livestock. Animal, doi: 10.1017/S175173111700218X, Published online by Cambridge University Press 12 September 2017.
Wu, L, Zhang, X, Griffith, BA and Misselbrook, TH 2016. Sustainable grassland systems: a modelling perspective based on the North Wyke Farm Platform. European Journal of Soil Science 4, 397408.
Zhang, Y, Collins, AL, Jones, JI, Johnes, PJ, Inman, A and Freer, JE 2017. The potential benefits of on-farm mitigation scenarios for reducing multiple pollutant loadings in prioritised agri-environment areas across England. Environmental Science and Policy 73, 100114.
Zhang, Y, Huang, D, Badgery, WB, Kemp, DR, Chen, W, Wang, X and Liu, N 2015. Reduced grazing pressure delivers production and environmental benefits for the typical steppe of north China. Scientific Reports 5, 16434.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

animal
  • ISSN: 1751-7311
  • EISSN: 1751-732X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Takahashi et al. supplementary material
Table S1 and Figures S1-S2

 PDF (971 KB)
971 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed