Summary: This paper does a greenhouse gas life cycle analysis (LCA) comparison of two grazing finishing systems in the Upper Midwest, USA: fleedlot finishing (FL) and adaptive multipaddock (AMP). It finds that AMP finishing improved soil organic carbon (SOC) by 3.5 tons per hectare per year. This resulted in a net negative footprint (or drawdown) of 6.6 kg of carbon dioxide equivalence per kg of carcass-weight (CW). Thus, for every kilogram of carcass weight produced, over six times that amount was reduced from the atmosphere in terms of carbon dioxide equivalence with all other production related gases accounted for, including enteric and manure emissions. The paper argues that previous studies that had appeared to show superiority of feedlot finishing in regards to climate had failed to account for the carbon capture in newly formed soils that are pronounced in the AMP method. Incorporating this drawdown more than compensated for the extra land and the extra days in pasture required AMP grazing.
Stanley, Paige L., Jason E. Rowntree, David K. Beede, Marcia S. DeLonge, and Michael W. Hamm. 2018. “Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems.” Agricultural Systems 162:249-258.