Towards Sustainable Livestock Production Systems: Analyzing Ecological Constraints to Grazing Intensity

Fetzel, T., Havlik, P. ORCID:, & Erb, K.H. (2015). Towards Sustainable Livestock Production Systems: Analyzing Ecological Constraints to Grazing Intensity. In: Systems Analysis 2015 - A Conference in Celebration of Howard Raiffa, 11 -13 November, 2015, Laxenburg, Austria.

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Increasing food production from cropland and grassland is essential to meet the future food demand of a growing world population without further land-use expansion. It is estimated that until 2050, food production has to increase strongly to meet future food demands. Increasing food production from grasslands in a sustainable way (e.g., by not degrading essential ecosystem services) is important, yet requires a good understanding of the major determinants and constraints of the global livestock production systems and the associated socio-economic and ecological patterns. The spatially explicit analysis of grazing intensity (GI; e.g., the fraction of available Net Primary Production (NPP) that is consumed by grazing animals in a year) using monthly data allow us to analyse the role of seasonality for limits to grazing intensity. Seasonality creates in many regions of the world shortage and surplus periods of NPP, which can (partly) be overcome by social organization, such as the employment of storage technologies or by imports. By comparing the current livestock density to the ecologically maximum density (EMD) determined by biomass availability during shortage periods we show that management has contributed to substantial higher livestock density in many world-regions whereas in others it is still close to the EMD. Our analysis shows to which expense (e.g., length of shortage period to overcome) the increase in livestock-density comes in different world regions and where potential for further biomass extraction exists. This study contributes to an improved understanding of the systemic inter-linkages between GI, seasonal biomass supply, and socioeconomic and ecological trade-offs, and provides essential information for analyzing intensification potentials of grasslands.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2016 13:19
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2023 13:23

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