Abstract: Residues from animal husbandry are one of the major greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources in agriculture. The production of biogas from agricultural residues can reduce GHG emissions through an improved handling of the material streams such as manure storage. Additionally, biogas can substitute fossil energy carriers in the provision of heat, power, and transport fuels. The aim of this work is to estimate the manure potential for biogas production in Germany under the consideration of the farm size of livestock production. In Germany, cattle and pig farming is of major relevance with more than 130,000 farms throughout the country. To unlock the biogas potential of manure, the low energy density of manure, depending on the dry matter content, needs to be considered, meaning that biogas installations need to be built close to the manure production on the farm site. This not only results in a high number of biogas plants, but also due to the wide range of farm sizes in Germany, a huge number of very small biogas plants. Small biogas installations have higher specific investment costs. Together with the relatively low methane yields from manure, costs for power generation would be very high. Co-substrates with higher methane yield can lower the costs for biogas. Thus, the use of a co-substrate could help to use small manure potentials. Biogas plants with the necessary minimum size of 50 kWel installed power could be established at farms representing 12% of all cattle and 16.5% of all pigs respectively in Germany. Using excrement from pigs, farms representing 16.5% of the total amount of pigs could establish a biogas plant. The use of manure in combination with energy crops can increase the size of biogas plants on a farm site significantly. At cattle farms, the share would increase to 31.1% with 40% co-substrate and to 40.8% with 60% co-substrate. At pig farms, the share would increase to 36% if co-substrates were used.
Abstract: This paper discussed the analysis of the survey on sustainability of bioenergy conducted in the Philippines, India and China. It acquired general perceptions of the people by asking them (a) specific questions about their level of familiarity with bioenergy; (b) relationship of their work to bioenergy; and (c) their opinion on contribution of various feedstock on the economy and impact of bioenergy production on food security. In addition to these questions, we estimated preference weights of various feedstock based on the conjoint choices on bioenergy’s contribution to social stability, social welfare and ecological balance. The estimates revealed significant trade-offs not only among these three dimensions of sustainability but also the relative importance of energy security, food security and ecosystem capacity to other economic, social and environmental objectives. The types of first generation feedstock that are currently used for biofuel production in the respective countries and those that offer alternative household use are perceived as important to the economy and preferred bioenergy feedstock. Based on the results of the study, the preferred role of bioenergy for sustainable development reflects the social and economic concerns in the respective Asian countries, e.g., energy security in China, food security in India, and ecosystem degradation in the Philippines.
Abstract: Leptospirosis is a serious and potentially fatal zoonotic disease, but often neglected owing to lack of awareness. This study examined the knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning leptospirosis among agricultural (n = 152) and non-agricultural (n = 115) workers in the lakeshore communities of Calamba and Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines. The findings showed no significant differences for the knowledge and attitude scores between agricultural and non-agricultural workers. However, agricultural workers had significantly lower prevention practice scores than non-agricultural workers. The ordinary least squares regression model identified gender, use of broadcast media as a source of health information, and knowledge and attitudes about leptospirosis as significant predictors of prevention practices common to both workers. Higher educational attainment was significantly associated with prevention practices among agricultural workers, while higher age and income level were significantly associated with prevention practices among non-agricultural workers. Public health interventions to improve leptospirosis knowledge and prevention practices should include health education and promotion programs, along with the strengthening of occupational health and safety programs in the agricultural sector.
Abstract: Information on the physiological ecology of grass-dominant pastures has made a substantial contribution to the development of practices that optimise the amount of feed harvested by grazing animals in temperate livestock systems. However, the contribution of ecophysiology is often under-stated, and the need for further research in this field is sometimes questioned. The challenge for ecophysiolgists, therefore, is to demonstrate how ecophysiological knowledge can help solve significant problems looming for grassland farming in temperate regions while also removing constraints to improved productivity from grazed pastures. To do this, ecophysiological research needs to align more closely with related disciplines, particularly genetics/genomics, agronomy, and farming systems, including systems modelling. This review considers how ecophysiological information has contributed to the development of grazing management practices in the New Zealand dairy industry, an industry that is generally regarded as a world leader in the efficiency with which pasture is grown and utilised for animal production. Even so, there are clear opportunities for further gains in pasture utilisation through the refinement of grazing management practices and the harnessing of those practices to improved pasture plant cultivars with phenotypes that facilitate greater grazing efficiency. Meanwhile, sub-optimal persistence of new pastures continues to constrain productivity in some environments. The underlying plant and population processes associated with this have not been clearly defined. Ecophysiological information, placed in the context of trait identification, grounded in well-designed agronomic studies and linked to plant improvements programmes, is required to address this.
Abstract: Goats are important contributors to both food and financial security of the resource poor, particularly in marginal environments such as those in the Mediterranean region. To fully understand the feasibility and potential consequences of any intensification or husbandry changes that could contribute to higher outputs, it is important to have a thorough prior understanding of the functional dynamics of these systems. Here the current performance of ten goat holdings in the northern region of Morocco, classified as either commercial milk producers, commercial cheese producers or non-commercial dairy producers, was recorded, based on the Food and Agricultural Organisation and International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (FAO-CIHEAM) technical and economic indicators, to assess whether intensification of dairy production was financially viable. Fecundity and prolificacy rates were comparatively lower than those achieved by many European Mediterranean herds. Both kid and doe mortality were higher on commercial dairy holdings, where dairy sales provided an additional, rather than alternative, source of income to goat sales. Despite this, due to significantly higher expenditure on supplementary feed, gross margin per doe did not differ significantly between holding types. With the exception of indigenous Greek herds, all European Mediterranean herds outperform those of northern Morocco. The study suggests that a low level of supplementary feeding is constraining goat dairy production in northern Morocco, and that the current high cost and limited availability of additional supplementary feed restricts the financial viability of intensification. Alternative feeding strategies within a participatory approach that might ameliorate these problems, and value chain constraints, are discussed.
Abstract: Farmbook is a novel information communication technology (ICT) tool for agricultural extension that is currently being field tested by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Southern and East Africa. Farmbook enables extension agents to assess productivity and profitability of farming enterprises in a faster and more reliable manner, so as to increase farmer incomes and achieve food security. This study looked at the relationship between challenges faced by extension agents testing the Farmbook application and select socio-economic indicators influencing their work. Specific objectives were to identify and categorize the challenges facing extension agents in the field as they used Farmbook, assess gender differences in the use of Farmbook by extension agents, understand the relationship between socio-economic status of extension agents and the challenges faced in using Farmbook. Data were collected through document reviews, administration of a structured questionnaire and focus group meetings with field agents. Descriptive statistics and multivariate techniques were used to analyze data. The results show that personal and wider socio-economic conditions do have an impact on the proficiency of extension agents using Farmbook. The study goes on to recommend measures to improve the training and ICT proficiency of extension agents adopting Farmbook.