Tackling unintended consequences of grazing livestock farming: Multi-scale assessment of co-benefits and trade-offs for water pollution mitigation scenarios

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Zhang, Y., Griffith, B. A., Granger, S. J., Sint, H. M. and Collins, A. L. 2022. Tackling unintended consequences of grazing livestock farming: Multi-scale assessment of co-benefits and trade-offs for water pollution mitigation scenarios. Journal of Cleaner Production. 336 (15 Feb), p. 130449. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.130449

AuthorsZhang, Y., Griffith, B. A., Granger, S. J., Sint, H. M. and Collins, A. L.
Abstract

A farm-to-landscape scale modelling framework combining regulating services and life cycle assessment mid-point impacts for air and water was used to explore the co-benefits and trade-offs of alternative management futures for grazing livestock farms. Two intervention scenarios were compared: one using on-farm interventions typically recommended following visual farm audits (visually-based) and the other using mechanistical understanding of nutrient and sediment losses to water (mechanistically-based). At farm scale, reductions in business-as-usual emissions to water of total phosphorus (TP) and sediment, using both the visually-based and mechanistically-based scenarios, were <5%. These limited impacts highlighted the important role of land drains and the lack of relevant on-farm measures in current recommended advisory lists for the soil types in question. The predicted impacts of both scenarios on free draining soils were significantly higher; TP reductions of ∼9% (visually-based) and ∼20% (mechanistically-based) compared with corresponding respective estimates of >20% and >35% for sediment. Key co-benefits at farm scale included reductions in nitrous oxide emissions and improvements in physical soil quality, whereas an increase in ammonia emissions was the principal trade-off. At landscape scale, simulated reductions in business-as-usual losses were <3% for both pollutants for both scenarios. The visually-based and mechanistically-based scenarios narrowed the gaps between current and modern background sediment loads by 6% and 11%, respectively. The latter scenario also improved the reduction of GWP100 relative to business-as-usual by 4%, in comparison to 1% for the former. However, with the predicted increase of ammonia emissions, both eutrophication potential and acidification potential increased (e.g., by 7% and 14% for the mechanistically-based scenario). The discrepancy of on-farm intervention efficacy across spatial scales generated by non-agricultural water pollutant sources is a key challenge for addressing water quality problems at landscape scale.

KeywordsLivestock agriculture; Water quality; Gaseous emissions; Soil quality; Best management
Year of Publication2022
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Journal citation336 (15 Feb), p. 130449
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.130449
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2022.130449
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeThe North Wyke Farm Platform- National Capability [2017-22]
S2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 3 (WP3) - Sustainable intensification - optimisation at multiple scales
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online08 Jan 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted06 Jan 2022
PublisherElsevier Sci Ltd
ISSN0959-6526

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