Healthy Pastures Offset Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from Cattle

A study conducted by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and partners shows that nitrous oxide emissions from cattle urine can be significantly curbed by healthy pastures. In field testing, researchers found that degraded pastures emitted up to three times as much nitrous oxide as healthy pastures when cattle urine was spilled on them. Nitrous oxide is a particularly powerful greenhouse gas. The researchers note that degraded livestock land is generally characterized by overgrazing, soil compaction, loss of organic material, and low levels of nutrients and soil carbon. This research suggests that large-scale land restoration with improved forage grasses, rotational grazing, and the addition of shrubs and trees (silvopastoral farming) could significantly mitigate the negative climate effects wrought by degradation.