Sustainable intensification of legume-based livestock systems
This project gathers eight countries characterized by their high livestock activity for meat and dairy production. They concentrate about 400 million cattle heads, representing more than 20% of world stock.
Livestock is mainly produced under direct grazing, in different agroecosystems, with a high diversity of forage resources. Nevertheless, these countries present noticeable similarities: (i) livestock is developed in marginal areas for agriculture, (ii) livestock productivity is low, including poor grazing management and animal loads that are usually less than one animal per hectare, (iii) the efficiency rates are low and (iv) livestock is the principal source of greenhouse gas emissions in all the eight countries.
The forage legumes can play a central role through the biological fixation of atmospheric nitrogen (N), the improvement of the nutritional value of the animal´s diet, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Addressing these challenges and opportunities can be achieved more efficiently through a joint effort. Thus, the project aims to establish a regional platform of cooperation in the strengthening of livestock systems based on the use of forage legumes.
The technological solution
The member countries of the platform have in common that beef production activity is crucial for their economies. Additionally, they all can use legumes as a forage resource, distinct but with common characteristics, such as the capacity to fix N from the atmosphere. In this sense, this practice is a fundamental contribution to the saving of N fertilizers, the supply of N to plant nutrition, and the sequestration of carbon from soils. Depending on the balance between emissions and sequestration of carbon raises the possibility of mitigating the emission of gases from these livestock production systems. Saving on fertilizers also implies significant economic and energy reductions and environmental benefits.
This program trains human resources within the framework of a collaborative and complementary capacity setting.
The creation of a cooperation platform to improve livestock production systems in Latin America and the Caribbean through the inclusion of legumes in pastures. This platform is producing a massive amount of data that will be arranged into integrated databases. The approaches are the relationship between legumes with the biological fixation of N and edaphoclimatic variables; soil density and carbon and N contents in different profiles; N2O and CH4 emissions from grassland soil with and without legumes; enteric CH4 emissions in cattle for animals fed with and without the inclusion of legumes; and the impact of the inclusion of legumes on animal production.
The obtained results are being published in scientific publications, conference presentations, and notes in the mass media. Annual technical reports are also produced. In addition, technical-scientific capacities will be strengthened through theses, internships, workshops, and courses.
About the positive environmental impacts, the expectations are: to reduce the use of agrochemicals, reduce GHG emissions, promote carbon sequestration in the soil, and decrease nitrogenous leachate. Furthermore, as social impacts, greater profitability is estimated due to lower costs in fertilizer use and higher yields, increased employment in rural areas, and the improvement of the family diet due to greater protein consumption of animal origin.
The direct beneficiaries are 2.532 people, including farmers, technicians, researchers, and students of the eight participating countries (Argentina 361, Brazil 163, Chile 333, Ecuador 336, Nicaragua 120, Paraguay 85, Dominican Republic 98, and Uruguay 1036.
Regarding the type of beneficiaries achieved, 37 research institutes will participate with their respective experimental stations, 18 universities, 247 researchers, and 2230 farmers.
Sustainable Development Goals
- Fundación ArgenINTA (ARGENINTA) - Argentina
- Instituto Dominicano de Investigaciones Agropecuarias y Forestales (IDIAF) - República Dominicana
- Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA) - Chile
- Instituto Nacional de Investigación Agropecuaria (INIA) - Uruguay
- Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIAP) - Ecuador
- Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) - Argentina
- Instituto Nicaragüense de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) - Nicaragua
- Instituto Paraguayo de Tecnología Agraria (IPTA) - Paraguay
- Empresa Brasileña de Investigación Agropecuaria (EMBRAPA) - Brasil
- Programa Cooperativo para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Agroalimentario y Agroindustrial del Cono Sur (PROCISUR) - Uruguay