Sustainable Grassland Agriculture
Grasslands cover approximately 25% of the terrestrial Earth surface (3.5 billion ha). Their role is multifunctional, providing both primary feed for forage-based livestock systems, whilst also providing additional ecosystem services, including storing carbon reserves, water management and wildlife habitat. Current livestock systems occupy globally about one third of available agricultural lands and contribute 40% of global agricultural output value (FAO, 2019). Globally, livestock production systems provide one third of the protein consumed by humans, with projected increasing demands for animal products due to population growth and increasing consumption per capita. Balancing increasing livestock production against increasing consumer demands to understand the impact of livestock products on the environment requires scientific innovation at a rate previously unprecedented in history as we strive to achieve the UK’s ambition of net zero carbon by 2050.
Our aim is to enhance the sustainability of pasture-based livestock agriculture to help deliver net-zero livestock systems by 2050. By encapsulating a whole farm systems approach in our vision, livestock scientists work closely with plant breeders, soil scientists, microbiologists, ecologists and social scientists to deliver productive and resilient agri-food systems. Linking to numerous industry partners from across agricultural supply chains, our impact model utilises a participatory-farmer research approach, to provide insights on barriers to change and the science needed by the industry, to support the adoption of innovation by end-users.
Our research remit includes:
- Net zero carbon grassland-based ruminant systems, including upland grasslands
- Home-grown high protein feed for ruminants and monogastrics
- Reducing GHG emissions from ruminants
- Soil protection and ecosystem services in livestock systems
- Knowledge exchange and implementing change in grassland agriculture
- Nutrient use efficiency via soil-plant-animal interactions
- Agriculture 4.0 and precision technologies, including innovation in silage technology
- Developing novel agri-food products and improving livestock product quality
At IBERS, we have the unique ability to develop novel plant resources to meet global demands for livestock systems that are sustainable, productive and resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Outputs and Capabilities
Impact Case Studies for REF ‘Reducing reliance on imported protein (soya) across a UK ruminant supply chain’