October 16, 2021

Rangeland important for conservation

Sustainability in the cattle industry

DANVILLE, Ind. — Raising livestock is a way for farmers to produce food on land unsuitable for cultivation, while enhancing ecosystems.

Rangelands store 20% of the globe’s soil organic carbon, said Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, Colorado State University’s director of the Sustainable Livestock Systems Collaborative.

Stackhouse-Lawson was a keynote speaker at the Stockmanship and Stewardship event.

The most important things we can do for soil organic carbon in rangeland include:

1. Preserve rangelands, avoid conversion.

2. Restore cultivated and degraded land.

3. Practice adaptive livestock management.

Beef production impacts soil carbon in several ways, including cycling nutrients back into the soil.

Proper grazing management can protect and restore carbon on degraded land, Stackhouse-Lawson said.

Inclusion of deep-rooted plants within forage mixtures may help store carbon deeper into the soil profile.

Sustainability — social, economic and environmental — will be an expectation in the cattle industry moving forward, Stackhouse-Lawson said.

“Improvements must be made on an individual organization basis (while) considering the uncontrollable factors influencing the management of the operation,” she said.

Examples include time needed to produce finished cattle, optimal use of fertilizer and lime, minimizing the use of trucks and all-terrain vehicles, and increase use of solar wind power.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor