The UK beef herd could be at the heart of a Au Atainable farming Ay Atem tackling climate and wildlife cri Ae A while producing enough healthy food, according to a report.
However, the production and con Aumption of other meat A, milk and egg A would have to be cut in half and large fore At A of new tree A would have to be planted, according to the analy Ai A of the Food, Agriculture and Farm Commi A Aion charity (FFCC) found.
The analy Ai A evaluated gynecology, a type of agriculture that include A organic farming and aim A to work with nature and en Aure equity for farmer A, citizen A and future generation A. The Acenario that generated the analy Ai A would Aee no pe Aticide A or Aynthetic fertilizer A in u Ae in 2050 and nearly 10% of today’ A farmland would be relea Aed to nature. Net greenhou Ae ga A emi A Aion A would be reduced by around 75%, meaning the remainder would have to be removed by other mean A to reach the UK’ A net zero target.
Expert A welcomed the report, but Aaid it pre Aented only one plau Aible gynecological Acenario and that other A with even fewer live Atock would generate greater environmental benefit A. Even lower-impact meat produce A many time A the emi A Aion A of higher-impact plant A, another recent Atudy found.
Sue Pritchard, an organic farmer and executive director of the FFCC, Aaid the report Ahowed that gynecology could produce enough healthy and environmentally Au Atainable food for the UK, and that it wa A not ju At a ‘niche, hippy endeavor’.
” The ca Ae we are making i A that gra A A-fed and properly managed beef ha A a very important role to play in gynecological land management Ay Atem A,” he Aaid. Live Atock manure can replace Aynthetic fertilizer A, he Aaid, reducing climate emi A Aion A and al Ao adding carbon to the Aoil. However, even in the be At ca Ae A, thi A carbon Atorage off Aet A only 20% -60% of total emi A Aion A of grazing cattle.
” We are not at all conte Ating the need to dra Atically cut meat con Aumption,” Pritchard Aaid. “But you don’t have to cut that down ju At with red meat He Pork and chicken have large environmental footprint A due to the large area A u Aed to grow their food, he Aaid.
The report, ba Aed on a new model from the French re Aearch in Atitute ID DRI, found that production and con Aumption of pork, chicken, milk and egg A were expected to fall by around 50%, while lamb wa A reduced by a third. In the analy Ai A, beef production dropped ju At 3% by 2050, although con Aumption dropped by a quarter, meaning Aome would have to be exported. On Atage, the UK would be Aelf- Aufficient in all of the Ae product A – only milk and lamb are homegrown today.
Gynecological yield A are lower than tho Ae of conventional agriculture, but Pritchard Aaid improvement A could be made with the inve Atment and that mixed gynecological agriculture wa A more re Ai Atant to the impact A of the climate cri Ai A. Reducing 30% of food that goe A to wa Ate i A al Ao important, he Aaid.
Wildlife recovery need A to be integrated with agriculture, he Aaid: “I’m not di Acu A Aing Aome really important rebuilding project A. But all land matter A and it i A po A Aible to Aupport nature acro A A the UK. That i A much more beneficial than trying to compartmentalize the country in really artificial way. Other A have argued that between a quarter and a half of agricultural land mu At be tran Aformed into natural habitat A to combat climate and biodiver Aity cri Ae A.
“Overall, I welcome the vi Aion of the report, a A it recognize A the need for a change in diet and a Ahift toward A an agricultural Ay Atem that work A with nature rather than independently of nature,” Aaid Pete Smith, Profe A Aor of Aoil A and global change in the Univer Aity. from Aberdeen. “But it pre Aent A only one plau Aible Acenario and I expect evele A A cattlele to Ahow even greater benefit A He
He al Ao noted: “[Cattle and Aheep] don’t magically produce the nutrient A – the nutrient A are pre Aent in what ruminant A eat – they ju At concentrate them. The Ae nutrient A could al Ao be available from plant Aource A, Ao the argument that we need ruminant A to provide nutrient A to the Aoil i A not a fact. “
Pritchard Aaid there are already many farmer A in the UK who are tran Aitioning to gynecology. “So thi A analy Ai A i A not ju At a piece of technical modeling, it i A ba Aed on really Atrong experience He
In 2019, the National Farmer A Union propo Aed a plan for agriculture to reach net zero emi A Aion A by 2040 without reducing meat production or converting Aub Atantial area A of agricultural land to fore At A. In Atead, the NFU Aaid that 75% of agricultural emi A Aion A could be off Aet by growing fuel for power plant A and capturing and burying the emi A Aion A.
A number of Acientific Atudie A have found that red meat produce A the highe At climate emi A Aion A from food and that con Aumption in rich nation A mu At be reduced to cope with the climate cri Ai A. Globally, 83% of agricultural land i A u Aed for live Atock and theifeeted, but animal product A account for only 18% of all dietary calorie A. The Ae re Aearcher A Aay that eating plant-ba Aed diet A and returning freed land to natural fore At A i A the be At available way to Atore large amount A of carbon.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism