Steps toward Sustainable Ranching: An Energy Evaluation of Conventional and Holistic Management in Chiapas, Mexico

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Read full article: “Steps toward Sustainable Ranching: An Emergy Evaluation of Conventional and Holistic Management in Chiapas, Mexico

Summary: Members of a holistic ranching ‘‘club” in the Frailesca region of Chiapas, Mexico have moved away from decades of conventional management by eliminating the use of burns and agrochemicals believed to decrease the biodiversity and forest cover of ranch lands, and by implementing sophisticated systems of rotational grazing and diversifying the use of trees. Seven (7) holistic ranchers and eighteen (18) neighboring conventional ranchers were interviewed about their cattle ranches and production strategies. Holistic ranches were found to have double the “emergy” (embodied-energy or “energy memory”) sustainability index values of conventional ranches. The results from this study show that productivity can be maintained as the sustainability of rural dairy ranches is increased, and that local knowledge and understanding of the surrounding ecosystem can drive positive environmental change in production systems.

Alfaro-Arguello, Rigoberto, Stewart A. W. Diemont, Bruce G. Ferguson, Jay F. Martin, José Nahed-Toral, J. David Álvarez-Solís, and René Pinto Ruíz. 2010. “Steps toward Sustainable Ranching: An Emergy Evaluation of Conventional and Holistic Management in Chiapas, Mexico.” Agricultural Systems 103: 639-46.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2010.08.002

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