Back to the Future: Reintegrating Land and Livestock for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Circularity

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The widespread reintroduction of crops and livestock could make a major contribution to the development of the wider EU circular (agricultural) economy and contribute to sustainable growth, through the more effective recycling of materials and resources, the minimization of waste, and a reduction in external supplies of feed and synthetic fertilizers, with potential biodiversity, environmental and soil health benefits. However, this comes with significant challenges, including the potential for enhanced GHG emissions, particularly methane emissions, from enteric fermentation, land degradation due to over grazing and water pollution as well as the need to effectively substitute all/most inorganic fertilizers with organic manures. Organic amendments applied to land could conversely result in enhanced GHG emissions, particular nitrous oxide emissions, unless these are managed appropriately and the necessity to store large amounts of organic manures/wastes may also be problematic, given their links to environmental pollution and GHG emissions. Additional complications could arise due to associated modifications in land use, including a shift from a grass-based to a forage/alternative crop-based diet, altered grazing practices and increased competition between food and animal feed or the use of biogas or bioenergy crops. Another key issue is the economic consequences of reintroducing livestock and whether the necessary incentives are available for them to be taken up by farmers. Whilst mixed farming systems were previously common and economically viable, new developments will require them to be matched with current production and market conditions and the availability of suitable value chains and business models to ensure their long-term viability.

The main goal of the Relive project is to adapt Holos and CFT models to European conditions. Tartu Observatory provides remote sensing support for the project.

The duration of the project is 01.03.2022-30.06.2025.

The project is financed by the European Commission and the Estonian Ministry of Rural Affairs.

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