The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America

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Read full article: “The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America

Summary: With appropriate regenerative crop and grazing management, ruminants not only reduce overall carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions, but also facilitate provision of essential ecosystem services, increase soil carbon (C) sequestration, and reduce environmental damage. Permanent cover of forage plants is highly effective in reducing soil erosion, and ruminants consuming only grazed forages under appropriate management result in more C sequestration than emissions. Incorporating forages and ruminants into regeneratively managed agroecosystems can elevate soil organic C, improve soil ecological function by minimizing the damage of tillage and inorganic fertilizers and biocides, and enhance biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Better management of cropping and grazing practices in North America could draw down and sequester in soil 1.2 gigatons of carbon annually, equivalent to about 10% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Teague, W. Richard, Steven Apfelbaum, Rattan Lal, U.P. Kreuter, Jason Rowntree, C.A. Davies, Robert Conser, M. Rasmussen, J. Hatfield, Tong Wang, F. Wang, and Peter Byck. 2016. “The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America.”  Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 71 (2):156-164. doi: 10.2489/jswc.71.2.156.

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