Sustainable intensification of Brazilian livestock production through optimized pasture restoration

Rising global population combined with shifting dietary preferences in emerging economies is leading to a significant increase in demand for livestock products, which is expected to double by 2050. This shift is happening in the context of global climate change and associated resource scarcities, leading to calls for sustainable intensification (SI) in agriculture. Livestock production is a particular focus of this debate, being the source of at least half of agriculture’s global greenhouse gas emissions. Although a contested concept, SI implies elements of resource use efficiency in production, and the need to consider the management of demand or consumption. But there are few convincing models of how SI might be implemented in major production systems. In this paper published in the Journal of Agricultural Systems, Professor Dominic Moran, N8 Chair and colleagues  show how Brazilian beef production systems (the second largest global producer) might intensify intensively by adopting one significant measure: restoration of degraded grazing pastures. half of Brazilian pastures are currently degraded, but we show how improved management may simultaneously increase beef productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We suggest this as an example of SI in action.

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