Archive for the ‘Greenhouse gases’ Category

Sustainable Farms

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

A 2006 U.N. report found that 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from raising livestock for food. While this may be true of today’s living, life and the environment could be healthier if we ate more meat.

But we should be eating a different kind of meat. Meat from cattle raised on grasslands. Much of the emissions associated with livestock production come from large-scale CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations).  With manure in human-made lagoons,, manure has nowhere to go. It produces millions of tons of methane and nitrous oxide each year. On pasture, this same manure simply is absorbed into the ground with close to zero carbon cost.

On a sustainable farm livestock is an essential part of the equation.  Without the livestock it is necessary to bring in compost or chemical fertilizers to make crops grow. Chemical fertilizers have about six nutrients rather than the 100s the manure produces.

When cattle are managed properly, they boost the soil’s ability to contain carbon. They also add organic matter to the soil. Their grazing encourages plant growth and the heavy hooves help break down dead plant residue. And to complete the cycle and make it profitable the animals must be eaten.

“Eating Meat for the Environment”, www.utne.com Nov-Dec 09