Keynote Lectures

Description

To help solve the major issues of improving livelihoods and environmental services, grassland research needs to be evaluated within the context of relevant farm systems. Treatments need to show that they not only have significant effects but that they have effects that are meaningful in the context of the relevant farm system. Research often defines an optimum criterion for management that is a single point, but that is difficult to achieve in practice, especially when there are several components in a grassland system that need to be optimised. It is argued that an appropriate criterion for optimising management is a range of values wherein management should aim to maintain the grassland. Typically grasslands comprise many species and appropriate frameworks are needed to determine suitable management practices so that the desirable species dominate. Examples of quantifiable frameworks are presented. A theory of animal production from grassland is then used that shows how optimising stocking rates and then considering the implications can lead to defining managing criteria that create a win-win circumstance for sustaining livestock, household livelihoods and environmental services. Traditionally farmers have thought in terms of the animal carrying capacity on areas of grassland as their main management criteria; which is only a measure of demand. A central component in many relationships is the grassland herbage mass and it is argued that this should be the primary criterion for managing grasslands; herbage mass is a net measure of supply and demand and better links to a wide range of measures of environmental services.

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Sustainable Grasslands: Resolving Management Options for Livelihood and Environmental Benefits

To help solve the major issues of improving livelihoods and environmental services, grassland research needs to be evaluated within the context of relevant farm systems. Treatments need to show that they not only have significant effects but that they have effects that are meaningful in the context of the relevant farm system. Research often defines an optimum criterion for management that is a single point, but that is difficult to achieve in practice, especially when there are several components in a grassland system that need to be optimised. It is argued that an appropriate criterion for optimising management is a range of values wherein management should aim to maintain the grassland. Typically grasslands comprise many species and appropriate frameworks are needed to determine suitable management practices so that the desirable species dominate. Examples of quantifiable frameworks are presented. A theory of animal production from grassland is then used that shows how optimising stocking rates and then considering the implications can lead to defining managing criteria that create a win-win circumstance for sustaining livestock, household livelihoods and environmental services. Traditionally farmers have thought in terms of the animal carrying capacity on areas of grassland as their main management criteria; which is only a measure of demand. A central component in many relationships is the grassland herbage mass and it is argued that this should be the primary criterion for managing grasslands; herbage mass is a net measure of supply and demand and better links to a wide range of measures of environmental services.