Plenary Lectures

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To meet world food demand through the 21st century, agricultural production needs to increase, but this needs to be done sustainably through increasing efficiency, optimising sufficiency and achieving consistency, such that resource use is optimised, waste reduced and environmental benefits gained. These strategies need to be developed against changing food patterns, especially a decline in per capita consumption of cereals and an increase in meat consumption as household incomes increase. Grasslands are collectively the larger group of land-based ecosystems on the planet. Their values are not always recognised, often being seen as ‘reserves’ for exploitation for urban expansion, for cropping or some other use – conversion to these other uses is continuing at a high rate. Their exploitation often leads to greater environmental and socio-economic problems. Over-grazing is typically the main influence on grassland productivity, reflecting the pressures from excessive human populations and a demand for food. Some 20% of the world’s grasslands are in a severely degraded state; others have suffered shifts to less-desirable species with consequently reduced productivity. Estimates of productivity change all show a declined over recent decades, yet animal numbers continue to increase, particularly in the developing world. Restoring productivity to achieve both livestock production and environmental benefits are desirable but not widely practiced in developing countries. Biodiversity and greenhouse gas production have been particular concerns, but the methods used to monitor them have not always suited an agricultural context – solutions are proposed. The large differences in livestock production efficiencies between the developed and developing world highlight how existing knowledge can be used to achieve major improvements that in turn would show major benefits for the world’s livestock industries.

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Sustainability, Biodiversity and Environmental Issues: A Global Perspective for Livestock Production

To meet world food demand through the 21st century, agricultural production needs to increase, but this needs to be done sustainably through increasing efficiency, optimising sufficiency and achieving consistency, such that resource use is optimised, waste reduced and environmental benefits gained. These strategies need to be developed against changing food patterns, especially a decline in per capita consumption of cereals and an increase in meat consumption as household incomes increase. Grasslands are collectively the larger group of land-based ecosystems on the planet. Their values are not always recognised, often being seen as ‘reserves’ for exploitation for urban expansion, for cropping or some other use – conversion to these other uses is continuing at a high rate. Their exploitation often leads to greater environmental and socio-economic problems. Over-grazing is typically the main influence on grassland productivity, reflecting the pressures from excessive human populations and a demand for food. Some 20% of the world’s grasslands are in a severely degraded state; others have suffered shifts to less-desirable species with consequently reduced productivity. Estimates of productivity change all show a declined over recent decades, yet animal numbers continue to increase, particularly in the developing world. Restoring productivity to achieve both livestock production and environmental benefits are desirable but not widely practiced in developing countries. Biodiversity and greenhouse gas production have been particular concerns, but the methods used to monitor them have not always suited an agricultural context – solutions are proposed. The large differences in livestock production efficiencies between the developed and developing world highlight how existing knowledge can be used to achieve major improvements that in turn would show major benefits for the world’s livestock industries.