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The Potential of Silvopastoral Systems for Milk and Meat Organic Production in the Tropics

Part of the Sustainable Development and Biodiversity book series (SDEB,volume 9)

Abstract

The demand for livestock products is rising rapidly in tropical areas as a consequence of increased human population. As demand for food increases, deforestation and land degradation occur. Though varying by country and region, the conversion of forest into cattle pastures has been one of the main driving forces of this degradation. In various Latin American countries, the creation of livestock farms, with government support, has been the single most important source of deforestation. This expansion of cattle ranching is also one of the principle causes of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture releases significant amounts of CO2, CH4, and N2O into the atmosphere. For example, CO2 is released largely from microbial decay or the burning of plant litter and soil organic matter produced during agricultural processes. Recently, silvopastoral systems (SPSs) have been advocated as promising alternatives to current practices by reconciling conservation and development needs. SPS is the production of livestock on land in a system which combines multipurpose leguminous shrubs at high densities together with grasses to improve both the yield and quality of fodder, resulting in milk and meat products with a high potential to attract an organic premium. This SPS plays an important role in healthy milk and meat production. Recent research advances have proven that Leucaena grass pastures are the most productive, profitable, and sustainable pasture-fed option for agroecological cattle production. Because the levels of input have traditionally been relatively low in the production of meat and milk from extensive grassland systems, they are among the easiest to convert to organic production. However, the long-term prospects for organic systems are not clear. There is continued pressure to ensure that all livestock systems and agriculture in general develop in a way that has minimal environmental impact. The differences between organic and conventional systems may diminish over time, and the pressure in demand for organic products may slow. Compared with other sources of fodder for meat and milk production, SPSs can provide a cheap source of feed. The SPS produces double the amount of milk and meat compared to pastures in monocrops with the minimum use of external inputs. The objective of this chapter is to describe the potential of SPS for organic milk and meat production.

Keywords

  • Silvopastoral systems
  • Organic productions
  • Milk
  • Meat
  • Livestock
  • Agriculture
  • Fodder

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Fig. 8.1
Fig. 8.2
Fig. 8.3

Abbreviations

AU:

Animal units

CP:

Crude protein

DM:

Dry matter

FAO:

Food and Agriculture Organization

GHG:

Greenhouse gases

LME:

Liquid milk equivalent

ME:

Metabolizable energy

Mmt:

Million metric tons

NDF:

Neutral detergent fiber

SPSs:

Silvopastoral systems

UNEP:

United Nations Environmental Program

WHO:

World Health Organization

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Acknowledgments

This publication was partially supported by the Fundacion Produce Michoacan (Grant number 2013-0012 and 2012-0003) and the SAGARPA-CONACYT (Grant Number 2011-14-175169).

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Correspondence to F. J. Solorio .

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Solorio, F.J. et al. (2016). The Potential of Silvopastoral Systems for Milk and Meat Organic Production in the Tropics. In: Nandwani, D. (eds) Organic Farming for Sustainable Agriculture. Sustainable Development and Biodiversity, vol 9. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-26803-3_8

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