17.11.2014

A holistic approach is needed

Reducing the GHG footprint requires an examination of the entire livestock production system; from feed cultivation to the animals themselves (see above) and to management of the excreta. This will require a holistic approach to reduce losses from the system. For example, monogastric species are sometimes promoted as a climate mitigation strategy because they are more efficient and produce less GHG emissions than ruminants. However, the additional environmental costs associated with the higher quality feeds required by monogastrics and the direct competition with humans for edible plant biomass should also be accounted for (Gill et al., 2010).
For feed production, much of the GHG emissions is related to N fertiliser applications to the soils. However, effective fertiliser management (i.e. altering the type of fertiliser, timing of application, matching applications to crop requirements, etc.) can reduce these emissions. This may also entail re-using livestock waste where applicable, although care must be taken since in some soils (particularly those with low C content) adding manure as a fertiliser may increase soil N2O emissions relative to synthetic N fertiliser applications (Velthof et al., 2003).