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Regenerative Livestock, a sustainable model for Colombia

With the collaboration of Prof. Alfonso Acevedo, from the Cordoba University (Colombia), a study of the potential of regenerative livestock in Colombia is being developed. In the week between 23rd and 27nd, September 2019, with the support of the UNESCO Chair on Sustainability (UPC) and within the framework of the AQUARISC Project with the Government of Cauca, training and advice to small producers in the Cauca Department began.

The world's soils are deteriorating rapidly due to erosion, nutrient depletion, loss of organic carbon, compaction and other threats. According to the UN (2015), erosion destroys each year from 25 to 40000 million / ton of the arable layer.

In Colombia, the land with agricultural vocation corresponds to 22 million hectares, Agroforestry four million hectares and Livestock, 15 million hectares. However, five million hectares are used for Agriculture and over 34 million hectares in Livestock ( IGAC, 2012), presenting serious conflicts and progressive deterioration of ecosystems.

The situation tends to improve with the implementation of alternative models of regenerative livestock, which improve the functionality and structure of ecosystems, and therefore, the resilience of the territory is increased, through the supply of ecosystem services that strengthen the economy and human well-being.

The UNESCO Chair on Sustainability at the UPC is developing a training for small producers of Cauca, within the framework of the AQUARISC project, financed by the Government of Cauca, with the purpose of implementing regenerative livestock projects that allow to protect the headwaters of the water river basin that supply the municipal aqueducts of the area.

Regenerative livestock, can be defined as a model of sustainable livestock management, which improves the productivity of the farm, and at the same time allows the restoration of ecosystems through the rehabilitation and conservation of soils and the increase of biodiversity.

The model also allows animals to have a permanent diverse food supply at any time of the year, with natural biological control, favoring the biological supply of soil, carbon sequestration and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This methodology proposes that cattle graze as they would naturally, in compact groups and in controlled time cycles, to avoid overgrazing and soil erosion. This undoubtedly helps the recovery and consolidation of soils, increasing their biodiversity and at the same time, improves yield.

Its advantages over conventional livestock are notorious, it allows greater animal load per unit of area, vegetation and diverse fauna, less costs of external inputs, longer rest period of the soil, less occupation of the pastures in unit of time (no compaction ), increase in the natural contribution of soil improvers represented by urine and manure, higher income for producers, healthier meat and milk and less use of agrochemicals among others.

In Colombia, the Colombian Association of Regenerative Livestock has been created, which has 62 associates, who have farms in the different life zones of the national territory. Most of the farms have gone from 0.7 to 3.3 Animal unit per hectare.

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