The June 2011 special issue of Animal Feed Science and Technology is focused on ‘Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture – Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions’.
The special issues summarizes papers presented at the Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in Animal Agriculture Conference in Banff (Alberta, Canada) in October of 2010. The conference had over 400 delegates from 36 countries, an attendance which attests to the global research effort ongoing in this area.
The meeting addressed microbial aspects of ruminal CH4 production, and methods to measure GHG from livestock and manure. Strategies to mitigate enteric CH4 emissions from ruminants, as well as CH4 and N2O emissions from manure, were a key focus of the conference.
Other papers outlined how modelling can be used to estimate GHG emissions at the animal, farm, regional and global scale. The key importance of modelling GHG from an agricultural systems perspective was apparent, both in a policy making and regulatory perspective, although its predictive accuracy is difficult to assess and lower than desirable, much lower in some cases.
It is clear that mitigation strategies which reduce GHG emissions, while improving the efficiency and economic viability of livestock production, are the most likely to be adopted in practice. Such strategies will be required to ensure that animal agriculture will be able to satisfy the growing global demand for food with a minimal impact on the environment.
ILRI’s Mario Herrero is co-author of a paper entitled ‘Livestock and greenhouse gas emissions: The importance of getting the numbers right‘