Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Can livestock reverse climate change?

Last week, i reported on how sauerkraut juice  could be used for climate change mitigation. It was clearly a technology that suits the organic farms in humid  Europe. A colleague of mine from ILRI last week sent me a very interesting link about a technology that sounds pretty contra-intuitive but can help to mitigate climate change in arid areas.

Desertification, is one of the driver of climate change, as biomass is decreasing on that land and less CO2 is absorbed by plants. Today, it is often believed that livestock is one of the drivers of desertification and loss of soil fertility. Therefore, one often talks of "destocking", reducing the amount of livestock to a sustainable level, hoping to slow down the desertification process.

Allan Savory in this TED talk shows that this intuition is wrong and that stocking up massively in arid areas can in fact restore the ecosystem. A pretty impressive talk, convince yourself :

Allan's shows that seasonal grassland can only develop well when they have been destroyed in dry period. The bigger the herds, the more there is destruction. As they urinate they fertilize the soil but also poison their own food, obliging the herd to move on, preventing from overgrazing. So by stocking up livestock dramatically, then one can insure that all the grasslands are destroyed enough but not overgrazed and in the next rainy season will grow well, producing biomass and roots that allow more water to infiltrate the soil and producing more food for livestock.  This sounds so contra-intuitive but seems to work.

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