Livestock and the Environment
Much has been written in the popular press and in the scientific literature about the impact of livestock production on the environment. Primary concerns focus on nutrients excreted in the manure and on the production of greenhouse gases.
Animals are not and will never be 100 percent efficient at utilizing their feed for maintenance and growth with zero excretion, nor should we expect them to be, since humans are far less efficient. Therefore, no matter what we feed animals, there will be manure (a combination of feces and urine) produced. This is often referred to as “waste” in the popular press, but in fact, animal manure is a valuable fertilizer. We grow all sorts of plants, from corn to tomatoes. When we harvest all or part of these plants, we often overlook the fact, that in order for that plant to grow, nutrients were removed from the soil, which need to be replaced. Read more about nutrient excretion
How does agriculture today compare with the past?
There are over seven billion people in the world and that number is expected to grow to nine billion by the year 2050 (Simmons, 2011). That’s a lot of people to feed! How will we be able to provide safe, nutritious food to all these people? Through changes and advances in the agriculture system. Read more about the history and future of agriculture
What is "sustainable" agriculture?
Sustainable farmers are very aware of the impact of their farming practices on the environment. For this reason, they try to limit their use of non-renewable resources. Not only does this help the environment stay healthy, but it also keeps the farmer from depending too much on resources that could run out, leaving her without necessary inputs for her farm.
In addition to avoiding non-renewable resources where possible, the sustainable farmer tries to find ways to keep his farm running by using the resources that are already available to him. This has led to some interesting inventions, like the manure digester, which allows the farmer to reuse his animals’ manure as electricity, bedding and fertilizer. Read more about sustainability