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Selected Publication:

Fetzel, T; Havlik, P; Herrero, M; Erb, KH.
(2017): Seasonality constraints to livestock grazing intensity
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOL. 2017; 23(4): 1636-1647. FullText FullText_BOKU

Abstract:
Increasing food production is essential to meet the future food demand of a growing world population. In light of pressing sustainability challenges such as climate change and the importance of the global livestock system for food security as well as GHG emissions, finding ways to increasing food production sustainably and without increasing competition for food crops is essential. Yet, many unknowns relate to livestock grazing, in particular grazing intensity, an essential variable to assess the sustainability of livestock systems. Here, we explore ecological limits to grazing intensity (GI; i.e. the fraction of net primary production consumed by grazing animals) by analysing the role of seasonality in natural grasslands. We estimate seasonal limitations to GI by combining monthly net primary production data and a map of global livestock distribution with assumptions on the length of nonfavourable periods that can be bridged by livestock (e.g. by browsing dead standing biomass, storage systems or biomass conservation). This allows us to derive a seasonality-limited potential GI, which we compare with the GI prevailing in 2000. We find that GI in 2000 lies below its potential on 39% of the total global natural grasslands, which has a potential for increasing biomass extraction of up to 181 MtC/yr. In contrast, on 61% of the area GI exceeds the potential, made possible by management. Mobilizing this potential could increase milk production by 5%, meat production by 4% or contribute to free up to 2.8 Mio km(2) of grassland area at the global scale if the numerous socio-ecological constraints can be overcome. We discuss socio-ecological trade-offs, which may reduce the estimated potential considerably and require the establishment of sound monitoring systems and an improved understanding of livestock systemxxxs role in the Earth system.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Erb Karlheinz

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
food security
global livestock systems
grassland management
grazing intensity
natural grasslands
seasonality


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