Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 159–172 | Cite as

Managing nutrient flows in Indian urban and peri-urban livestock systems

  • Cadaba S. Prasad
  • Samireddypalle Anandan
  • Nisarani K. S. Gowda
  • Eva Schlecht
  • Andreas BuerkertEmail author


During the last two decades India has transformed from a largely vegetarian nation into a major consumer of animal products. However, surprisingly little is known about the structure of the livestock sector and related input and outputs. Growing demand for animal products has led to a major shift from traditional farm-based systems with nutrient recycling in associated cropping to landless commercial modes of production. Currently, most of the livestock and poultry rearing takes place in rural and peri-urban areas, which host around 95% of the country’s livestock population while almost 70% of the poultry production is industrial. In the dairy sector commercial systems of crossbred cattle with individual feeding and management is growing (27% of milk production) faster than of traditional, low-input systems with indigenous cattle (21% of milk). Buffalo systems (52% of milk) comprise a mix of commercial and traditional elements. Less than 30% of the total milk production and < 10% of the meat is processed. Small ruminant production systems are dominated by grazing and low inputs of concentrates. Pathways of nutrient and matter fluxes in livestock systems can be categorized in: (1) fluxes related to feed production, (2) transformation of nutrients from feed into animal products, and (3) fluxes related to waste management (disposal or recycling). More efficient matter recycling would require raising awareness of stakeholders, supporting cold storage to allow relocation of production from urban areas back into rural regions thereby strengthening crop-livestock links, and enforcing existing regulations for animal husbandry.


Consumer preferences Nutrient recycling System efficiency Urban and peri-urban transition 



This study was conducted as part of the Research Unit FOR2432 “Social-Ecological Systems in the Indian Rural–Urban Interface: Functions, Scales and Dynamics of Transition” jointly funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; BU1308/14-1 and SCHL587/6-1) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India. We also wish to thank the University of Agricultural Sciences (UASB, GKVK Campus) and the National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology (NIANP) in Bangalore, India, for their trust and continued support.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Animal Nutrition and PhysiologyBengaluruIndia
  2. 2.Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and SubtropicsUniversität Kassel and Georg-August-Universität GöttingenWitzenhausenGermany
  3. 3.Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and SubtropicsUniversität KasselWitzenhausenGermany

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