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Positive research results for regenerative livestock farming

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

UNESCOSOST and the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Colombia) join academic efforts to develop livestock farming activities with sustainability criteria based on field research.

Investigador Yhonattan Méndez

Barcelona, ​​October 27

Within the framework of the cooperation agreement signed between the UNESCO Chair on SUSTAINABILITY and the Univ. Pontificia Bolivariana seccional Montería (UPB), the research entitled "DETERMINING THE CARBON BALANCE IN THREE BOVINE LIVESTOCK PRODUCTIVE ARRANGEMENTS TO ESTABLISH THE LEVEL OF MITIGATION GREENHOUSE GASES - GHG ”; directed by Yhonattan Méndez Nobles, PhD researcher at the UNESCO Chair on SUSTAINABILITY and assitant professor at the UPB.

The research was carried out in three farms located in the department of Cordoba (Colombia), under three different productive arrangements: intensive, rotary, and regenerative, in the processes of breeding, raising, and fattening. The intensive arrangement has a higher density of animals per available area, represented in pastures with grasslands and little forest cover. For its part, the rotational arrangement or rotational grazing analyzed corresponds to a system that implies the use of at least two paddocks and that allows the cattle to "rotate" between them, resulting in a grazing period followed by a rest period, finding little forest cover. Lastly, regenerative livestock farming implies that natural systems, water and carbon cycles are restored and maintained, which allow the earth to continue producing food in a healthier way in the long term; finding greater areas of forest cover and diversity of plant species.

The estimates of emissions and removals were developed from the Refined Guide for National GHG Inventories, published by the IPCC in 2019. For the emissions, they were estimated from levels 3 A1 and 3 A2, related to enteric fermentation and manure management. In the case of absorptions, they were estimated for level 3 B1, forest lands. The analysis using the Corine Land Cover methodology, allowed to determine the cover areas in the three cases analyzed and afterwards carry out a forest inventory through a statistical design by plots, estimating the level of absorption from the forest covers. The research concluded that GHG capture by forest cover is significantly higher in the regenerative arrangement comparing with the rotating and intensive arrangement, as well as the net balance including emissions and removals.

In addition, the regenerative arrangement presents greater benefits from the environmental, economic and social dimension, representing greater competitive advantages over the two aforementioned arrangements. It is highlighted that this research is part of the doctoral thesis work of the researcher Méndez who is currently advancing his studies in the doctoral program in Sustainability of the UPC, in which he proposes a decision-making model for small and medium-sized bovine producers within the framework of a carbon credit market, finding environmental and economic attributes as a tool for climate neutrality in the Colombian livestock sector.

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