Altering livestock diets could 'mitigate' greenhouse gases

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 22, 2016
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Scientists have found that the global livestock sector can maintain the economic and social benefits it delivers while significantly reducing emissions, and in doing so help meet the global mitigation challenge.

The research, published by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientists on Tuesday, found that by altering the diets of cows and other livestock, the potential for greenhouse gas mitigation improved significantly.

According to the CSIRO, livestock currently accounts for about half of the "mitigation potential" of the global agricultural sector -- which is the second largest source of emissions after the energy sector.

Lead author of the study, Dr Mario Herrero, said farmers could use the CSIRO research to do their bit for the environment.

However, he said it was important for governments around the world to offer the right "incentives" for farmers to alter their farming methods, in order to get the best mitigation potential possible.

"We've found that there are a number of ways that the livestock sector can contribute to global greenhouse gas mitigation," Herrero said in a statement on Tuesday.

"New management practices such as rotational grazing and dietary supplements can increase livestock production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We need to increase the adoption of these different strategies by making sure that we have the right incentives.

"If appropriately managed with the right regulatory framework, these practices can also achieve improved environmental health over and above the greenhouse gas benefits delivered, for example through improved ground cover and soil carbon."

But Herrero warned that significantly changing the farming methods in developing nations could have adverse effects on the local economy, and said it was important to balance the social and economic factors with the environmental benefits.

"Livestock has a role in a healthy and sustainable diet, and the sector has an important economic and social role, particularly in developing countries," Herrero said.

"We need to balance these health outcomes and the economic and social benefits, while also capturing the mitigation potential the livestock sector can offer."

The results of the study were published in the "Nature Climate Change" journal on Tuesday.


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