The emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been the dominating subject in agriculture for quite some time, and will likely continue.
Living Lab project looks for collaborators
A new Living Lab researching best management practices for climate change challenges will be starting soon in Ontario. Farmers have…
I am inundated with notices of events and press releases on how farmers can reduce emissions by employing varying cropping practices, and what new technology can help them do this is on the horizon.
Emissions reduction and soil health has become the new definition of sustainability, in agriculture discussions anyway.
But I receive comparatively little information on how livestock fits in to the sustainability discussion, and when I do, it’s often negative. Cattle are a favourite target of enviromentalists, as are hogs, due to their perceived threat to land use for feed crops and their copious amounts of “polluting” manure.
Yes, cattle release methane as a co-product of digestion and both species poop. But livestock can contribute much more than they take away.
Manure is a valuable fertilizer and its use is once again in favour as farmers strive to improve soil health and reduce their dependence on alternative chemical fertilizers. As the province moves into more renewable energy production, manure is an energy-rich feedstock for biogas. Denmark, which has the largest population of pigs on an incredibly small land base (compared to Canada or other European countries), is now able to produce virtually all of its own renewable natural gas, and much of this comes from agricultural feedstocks including manure and bedding from its pig, poultry and dairy farm operations.
The country’s swine industry remains viable and strong, and is a key contributor to its GDP.
Livestock can also play a crucial role in food security.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), livestock contributes 40 per cent of the global value of agricultural output and supports the livelihoods and food and nutrition security of almost 1.3 billion people. The FAO further states that there is room to improve livestock sector practices, to make the industry not only more environmentally sustainable, but so that both animals and humans remain healthy.
U.K.-based HealthforAnimals recently commissioned a report by international consulting firm Oxford Analytica to examine the benefits of reducing livestock disease. Oxford Analytica used data sourced from the World Organization for Animal Health covering 180 countries from 2005 to 2022, and determined that one-fifth of livestock production around the world is lost to disease each year. If this loss is reduced to 10 per cent of production, 800 million tonnes of livestock emissions (equivalent to the average annual carbon footprint of 117 million Europeans) would be removed.
It also means the dietary needs of another 1.8 billion people could be met.
The Canadian government has been clear in its goal to make the country’s food production more sustainable, as well as contribute to food security both at home and globally.
But it needs to start including — and funding — the livestock sector more widely within its sustainability goals.
New to Farmtario!
Farmtario is excited to bring you our new Corn Guide, where we provide more in-depth coverage of corn production. This eight-page special section is in our Sept. 18 issue and can be easily removed and kept for future reference.
Content from the guide will also be available online for easy reference. Scan the QR code on page 19 for the online version, where you will find extras such as video and audio interviews. We’ll also be updating the site regularly with agronomic tips and industry news.
We plan to publish our Corn Guide in print and online twice a year, in September and January, so keep an eye out in the New Year for the next edition.
We’re doing the same thing for soybeans, and our first Soybean Guide will be included with the October 16 edition. A winter edition will be available in February.