The on-farm impact of alternative grazing management options to improve sustainability in western Chinese grasslands

Chinese grasslands are suffering considerable pressures from human and livestock populations. It has been estimated that 90% of Chinese grasslands are suffering from light to heavy levels of degradation. Allied to this is the low household income of herders and farmers dependant upon livestock products for their livelihood. Although a range of reasons have been proposed for the high levels of grassland degradation, principal among these are the high stocking rates adopted by farmers. This not only results in high utilisation rates of the pasture biomass, leading to bare areas and soil erosion, but individual animal productivity rates also decline. This paper presents the results of a modelling study of a grassland system in Gansu Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in northern China. This shows that reducing stocking rates leads to not only an increase in livestock productivity, but whole-farm returns are also increased. From a sustainability perspective, the greater pasture biomass remaining on the grassland also reduces the incidence of soil erosion in the areas.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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