Theme 4: Wildlife--Oral Sessions

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Incorporation of legumes into forage systems has been a widely adopted strategy to increase pasture productivity and forage nutritive value, while reducing N inputs. Considering the population growth, and the diminishing land resources for food production, the need to increase the food supply will have to be balanced with the environmental impact of these systems, particularly their carbon footprint. Enteric methane production represents the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. Certain forage legumes have evolved plant secondary compounds, such as tannins and other polyphenols, which have been associated with reductions in enteric methane emissions. Studies were conducted at Utah State University (USU), and at the University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center (UF-NFREC) to assess in vivo methane emissions in grazing cattle, using the SF6 tracer technique. At USU, cattle grazing pastures of Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus; BFT) emitted less methane per unit of dry matter consumed when compared with cattle fed a totally mixed ration (50% barley grain, 25% alfalfa hay, and 25% corn silage) in ad libitum amounts. However, emissions in cattle grazing BFT did not differ from those grazing the legume Cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer), or a traditional pasture-finishing system based on Meadow brome (Bromus riparius). At UF-NFREC, three livestock-forage systems were tested during three consecutive years to determine the effects of including the legume Rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.; BHR) in bahiagrass pastures (Paspalum notatum Flügge) fertilized (BH) or not (BHF) with N during the warm season. No differences were observed in methane emissions (g d-1), or in methane emission intensity. From the legumes grazed in these experiments, only BFT contains significant concentrations of tannins. Thus, the potential to mitigate livestock enteric methane emissions by grazing legumes appears to be directly related to the presence of tannins.

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Legumes as a Strategy for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Forage-Livestock Systems

Incorporation of legumes into forage systems has been a widely adopted strategy to increase pasture productivity and forage nutritive value, while reducing N inputs. Considering the population growth, and the diminishing land resources for food production, the need to increase the food supply will have to be balanced with the environmental impact of these systems, particularly their carbon footprint. Enteric methane production represents the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. Certain forage legumes have evolved plant secondary compounds, such as tannins and other polyphenols, which have been associated with reductions in enteric methane emissions. Studies were conducted at Utah State University (USU), and at the University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center (UF-NFREC) to assess in vivo methane emissions in grazing cattle, using the SF6 tracer technique. At USU, cattle grazing pastures of Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus; BFT) emitted less methane per unit of dry matter consumed when compared with cattle fed a totally mixed ration (50% barley grain, 25% alfalfa hay, and 25% corn silage) in ad libitum amounts. However, emissions in cattle grazing BFT did not differ from those grazing the legume Cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer), or a traditional pasture-finishing system based on Meadow brome (Bromus riparius). At UF-NFREC, three livestock-forage systems were tested during three consecutive years to determine the effects of including the legume Rhizoma peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.; BHR) in bahiagrass pastures (Paspalum notatum Flügge) fertilized (BH) or not (BHF) with N during the warm season. No differences were observed in methane emissions (g d-1), or in methane emission intensity. From the legumes grazed in these experiments, only BFT contains significant concentrations of tannins. Thus, the potential to mitigate livestock enteric methane emissions by grazing legumes appears to be directly related to the presence of tannins.