Summary: Beef production can be environmentally detrimental due in large part to associated enteric methane (CH4) production. However, beef production in well-managed grazing systems can aid in soil carbon sequestration (SCS), a detail often ignored when assessing beef production impacts on climate change. This partial life cycle assessment (LCA) compared two grazing management strategies: 1) a non-irrigated, lightly-stocked, high-density system (MOB) and 2) an irrigated, heavily-stocked, low-density system (IRG). This partial LCA indicated that when SCS potential was included, each grazing strategy could be an overall sink, with the MOB system found to have greater SCS than the IRG system.
Rowntree, Jason, Rebecca Ryals, Marcia Delonge, Richard W. Teague, Marilia Chiavegato, Peter Byck, Tong Wang, and Sutie Xu. 2016. “Potential mitigation of midwest grass-finished beef production emissions with soil carbon sequestration in the United States of America.” Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture & Society 4 (3):8