A research paper was recently published in Agricultural Systems by Paige Stanley, Jason Rowntree, David Beede, Marcia DeLonge and Michael Hamm. It was titled: Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems.
The focus of this research was to show how grass finished beef have the potential to actually sequester carbon in the soil thus making the finishing part of the beef value chain an actual net carbon sink rather than a major contributor to carbon emissions such as happens in feedlot production. While feedlot production has overall less emission and takes half the land of grassfed production, the grassfed production method has far greater sequestration capability to create a net carbon sink and mitigate GHG emissions.
The study included looking at adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing to manage for optimal forage growth and recovery, thus allowing for increased animal and forage productivity and greater capability of carbon sequestration than conventional (continuous) grazing. They examined the impacts of AMP grazing and related soil carbon sequestration on net GHG emissions by performing a comparative Life Cycle Assessment on two different beef finishing systems in the Upper Midwest. They used on-farm data collected from the Michigan State University Lake City AgBioResearch Center for AMP grazing.
After including soil organic carbon in the GHG footprint estimates, finishing emissions from the AMP system were reduced from 9.62 to −6.65 kg CO2-e kg carcass weight (CW)−1, whereas FL emissions increased slightly from 6.09 to 6.12 kg CO2-e kg CW−1 due to soil erosion. In other words, AMP grazing results in 6.65 kg CO2-e kg carcass weight (CW)−1 being sequestered in the soil while feedlot emissions are 6.12 kg CO2-e kg CW−1
Read my previous blog on the Science Supporting Holistic Management to learn more about the research showing the results of effective grazing and farming practices on increasing soil carbon.
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