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Production and Biodiversity 'Can Work Together'
Farming Life | February 28, 2019
A study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, claims British farms could produce more food while also supporting wildlife. The researchers found biodiversity was greatest when the efficiency of the system was increased and the spare land was devoted to species–rich grassland.
Biodiversity gains were also evident when spare land was used for additional crop production, especially when these additional crops supported different species of wildlife. "Optimum farmland composition typically depends on whether to maximise production or biodiversity. But we have shown this doesn't have to be the case," said Dr Patrick White, lecturer in conservation biology at Edinburgh Napier. "Greatest 'win–wins' can be achieved by making productive land cover more diverse and selecting crops that complement each other in the species they support."
I have talked about the heritability of low RFI in cattle before, and its potential use in reducing methane emissions. The article below explores this potential further. However, it is worth noting that in cattle on pasture (through work done in Australia), the benefits seen in fed cattle have not been reliably replicated.
Further work in Scotland examined behavioural traits of fed cattle and RFI, finding that more dominant cattle were able to eat more frequently in smaller volumes, and that the reductions in Daily Methane Production may be related to the pattern of eating enabled by dominant behaviour, which is not replicated in a grazing situation.
Animal Board Invited Review: Genetic Possibilities To Reduce Enteric Methane Emissions From Ruminants
The Animal Consortium 2015
There is potential for adopting genetic selection and in the future genomic selection, for reduced CH4 emissions in ruminants. From this review it has been observed that direct measurement of CH4 emissions from RC, SF6 or PAC has proven underlying animal genetic variability. Subsequently, indirect indicators were explored through genetic correlations with CH4 trait. It can be concluded that indirect and genomic selection might be possible options for near future selection. CH4 emissions are a heritable and repeatable trait. CH4 emissions are strongly related to feed intake both in the short term (minutes to several hours) and over the medium term (days).
People and the Community
Beef and Consumer Trust: Don't Just Tell Your Story, Live It
James Nason, BEEF Central | March 8, 2019
In a message that may come as a surprise to beef producers, given the tone of anti–meat headlines and commentary on social media, is that in Ian McConnell's view the industry still enjoys strong levels of approval. "Any belief from you as an industry that falls below that line is pure pessimism," he said "All up, I will challenge you, it is purely you listening to your own Facebook feed, you're being told that everybody is against you, because someone was against you, and when an activist says something two groups listen – his Facebook friends, and the person he is attacking.
And the person he is attacking amplifies his message within his peers. It is why we tend to over exaggerate the impact. Farming is still one of the most trusted professions in the world, second only to careers that save lives, such as paramedics and emergency services. Farmers are still intrinsic to who we are, especially in Australia."
Managing Grazing To Restore Soil Health and Farm Livelihoods
W R Teague, Oxford Journal of Animal Science | February 1, 2019
Effective soil management provides the greatest potential for achieving sustainable use of agricultural land with rapidly changing, uncertain and variable climate. With appropriate management of grazing enterprises, soil function can be regenerated to improve essential ecosystem services and farm profitability.