Florida (Rural Roots Canada) – The agricultural benefits of cattle grazing are well documented, but new research finds it also has environmental benefits.

The Archbold-Alltech research alliance, a collaborative effort between Alltech and Archbold launched in 2019, brought together scientists from two different disciplines – ecologists from Archbold and ruminant nutritionists from Alltech – to try and understand the impact cattle production has on the ecosystem at Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch in Lake Placid, Florida, and the ability to sequester carbon.

The alliance created a model for estimating the ranch’s carbon footprint. It found, on average, that the ranch sequesters more carbon than it emits, making it a net-carbon sink, indicating grazing ruminant animals on land benefits the environment and improves carbon cycling. The results also confirm that if carbon-neutral, and even net-positive, beef production is possible at the 10,500-acre ranch in Lake Placid, Florida, it likely has the same potential to extend to environments globally.

In a release, Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech, says this is a profoundly powerful discovery. 

“These exciting findings at Archbold’s Buck Island Ranch prove that we capture more carbon when cows are grazing the land.”

cattle grazing
A research alliance between Archbold and Alltech brings together two scientific disciplines, with ecologists from Archbold and ruminant nutritionists from Alltech, to understand the impact that cattle production can have on an ecosystem.

Dr. Betsey Boughton, director of agroecology at Archbold, echoed that sentiment.

“All of this work is scalable to other parts of the world,” says Dr. Boughton. “The narrative people have heard is that cows are bad for the environment, but grazing animals can actually change the function of grasslands. Cows are eating the grass and not allowing as much decomposition to happen on the ground. Without cows, we actually see more carbon emitted.”

RELATED: Shipwheel Cattle Feeders named co-recipient of Alltech Canada’s Planet of Plenty award

To showcase the work being done at the Buck Island Ranch, the Archbold-Alltech Alliance has released a six-part Planet of Plenty™ video series exploring the cattle grazing carbon cycle, the role of carbon sequestration in mitigating climate change and other insights the collaborative research alliance has discovered. 

The research also emphasizes the importance of considering the full cycle of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration, including the role of soil. Alltech Crop Science and Ideagro, a division of Alltech, are studying how microbial populations can enhance soil chemistry and nutrient density, leading to increased carbon sequestration. It presents a significant opportunity for the agricultural community to combat climate change, improve soil health, increase crop yields, and promote biodiversity.

“We’re trying to let people know that it is not just this black-and-white answer,” adds Dr. Boughton. “It is complicated, and we need to think about the whole story.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

Comments are closed.