About this Research Topic
Approximately 3.5 billion hectares, 70% of the land available for food production, will support livestock, but not crop, production. In arid, semi-arid and tundra regions of Africa, Asia and Europe, entire cultures, many of them nomadic or semi-nomadic, depend on herding not only for food, but for their ways of life. Furthermore, while interest in plant-based diets appears to be increasing in industrialized countries, the demand for meat is growing rapidly in developing countries.
Livestock production, however, brings with it problems, including potentially significant contributions of greenhouse gases, and contamination and overuse of water supplies. Furthermore, the conversion of forage to animal biomass in regions where forage quality is poor is inefficient and overgrazing can degrade plant communities, even to the point of desertification.
Conversely, a growing literature suggests that livestock, managed on pasture or rangeland using so-called regenerative techniques, that seek to create natural-system mimics, may help restore soil fertility, increase the diversity and productivity of soil microbial and plant communities, increase water retention, reduce nutrient leaching and erosion, and remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
This Research Topic will explore the ecological, economic and social implications of livestock management in grassland systems. The objective is to document the potential of livestock to continue producing animal-based protein for human consumption without degrading ecosystems, and possibly even improving them. Specific interests include papers describing the interactions among soil communities, plant communities, livestock and human populations or any subset thereof, as well as studies on how these interactions affect the health and functionality of the ecosystem in total. For example, papers comparing the differential effects of various grazing management practices on plant community diversity, soil microbial community functionality, nutrient dynamics or impacts –positive or negative – on wildlife are of interest. We are also interested in papers dealing with socioeconomic issues, including but not limited to the economics of regenerative and integrated livestock agriculture and the responses of traditional and indigenous herding cultures to urbanization, industrialization and climate change. We will accept papers that report the results of novel research, review a body of knowledge addressing any of the sub-topics mentioned above and, in certain circumstances, develop testable hypotheses dealing with an issue associated with some aspect of the topic.
Keywords: Livestock production, Overgrazing, Livestock management, Soil, Carbon, Grassland systems, Ecosystem services, Soil function
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.