Submitted to: New York Academy of Sciences
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/22/2013
Publication Date: 12/3/2013
Citation: Steiner, J.L., Engle, D.M. 2013. Impact of protein production on the environment. New York Academy of Sciences. Availabe: http://www.nyas.org/Events/Detail.aspx?cid=e007dda3-44fa-47be-98ac-8007e7dba208. Interpretive Summary: Abstract Only
Technical Abstract: Grasslands constitute the largest global land use and are an important part of agricultural and ecological systems on every continent, across a wide range of potential productivity. Ruminant livestock grazing on these lands constitutes an important, and often the only viable, form of agricultural production. It is estimated that 1 billion people depend on livestock, and livestock serves as at least a partial source of income and food security for 70 percent of the world’s 880 million rural poor who live on less than USD 1.00 per day. In the southern Great Plains of the USA, beef-forage grazing systems which dominate the agricultural land use and farm-gate income are subject to extreme variability in climate, economics, and policy. Increasing the resilience of these agroecosystems to withstand variable climate conditions, highly dynamic markets, and a range of federal and state agricultural, energy, and environmental policy drivers is essential. Research across the spectrum of cropland, pastureland, and prairie that is characteristic of the Great Plains is needed to identify sustainable forage-based production systems that are adaptable across enterprise types, from large-scale commercial livestock operations that dominate production and economics to small farms that dominate the landscape, particularly in the southeastern portions of the region. The presentation will describe a multi-institutional research and extension collaboration focused on management of these systems to support vibrant rural economies, promote biological diversity (soil, plant, and animal), reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase soil organic matter, with corresponding positive impacts on carbon sequestration, water and air quality and agricultural sustainability. Developing and delivering knowledge and tools to support the diverse agricultural systems that comprise the fabric of the Southern Plains landscape in the face of complex interactive climate, policy, and economics drivers can help producers better meet consumer needs and preferences for sustainable food systems.