The global beef industry, particularly in the US and Brazil, can potentially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by nearly 50 per cent with proper land management, improving production efficiency, suggests a research.
The findings showed that using carbon sequestration management strategies on grazed lands, including using organic soil amendments and restoring trees and perennial vegetation to areas of degraded forests, woodlands and riverbanks could reduce 46 per cent in net GHG emissions per unit of beef.
Additionally, using growth efficiency strategies to produce more beef per unit of GHG emitted, led to an overall 8 per cent reduction in net GHGs.
Net-zero emissions, however, were only achieved in 2 per cent of studies, revealed the study published in the journal Global Change Biology.
“Our analysis shows that we can improve the efficiency and sustainability of beef production, which would significantly reduce the industry’s climate impact,” according to lead author Daniela Cusack, Assistant Professor at CSU’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability.
“But at the same time, we will never reach net-zero emissions without further innovation and strategies beyond land management and increased growth efficiency. There’s a lot of room, globally, for improvement,” Cusack said.
For the study, the team analysed 292 comparisons of “improved” versus “conventional” beef production systems across Asia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Latin America and the US. The analysis revealed that Brazilian beef production holds the most potential for emissions reductions.
Improved management strategies for both carbon sequestration and production efficiency led to a 57 per cent GHG emission reduction in Brazil. Specific strategies include improved feed quality, better breed selections and enhanced fertiliser management.
“Our research shows the important role that ranchers can play in combating the global climate crisis, while ensuring their livelihoods and way of life,” said Clare Kazanski, co-author and North America region scientist with The Nature Conservancy.