Organic Farming as a Strategy to Reduce Carbon Footprint in Dehesa Agroecosystems: A Case Study Comparing Different Livestock Products
Department of Animal Production and Food Science, School of Agricultural Engineering, University of Extremadura, Avda. Adolfo Suarez, s/n, 06007 Badajoz, Spain
Department of Animal Production and Food Science, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Extremadura, Campus Universitario, 10003 Caceres, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 December 2019
Revised: 14 January 2020
Accepted: 15 January 2020
Published: 17 January 2020
This paper attempts to analyze the impact of organic livestock farming in dehesas through the analysis and review of the carbon footprint of seven extensive organic farming systems in various dehesas in the southwest of Spain. The method used was life cycle assessment, taking into account both greenhouse emissions and carbon sequestration. Greenhouse emissions estimated are those derived from livestock digestion, manure management, soil management, and off-farm inputs (feeding, fuels, and electricity). Carbon sequestration calculations consider carbon fixation due to pasture and crop waste and carbon fixation in soil due to manure fertilization. The farms under study represent all the species bred in the farms and all the habitual farming systems existing in dehesas, with the following types being under analysis: beef cattle, sheep for meat, Iberian pigs, and dairy goats. The emissions identified in the farms under study have been found to be lower than those from conventional farms, with values of 16.27 and 10.43 kg CO2eq/kg of live weight for beef cattle, 13.24 and 11.42 kg CO2eq/kg of live weight for sheep, 1.19 kg CO2eq/kg of milk for goats, and 4.16 and 2.94 kg CO2eq/kg of live weight for pigs. The levels of carbon sequestration are also noticeably higher, with compensation being up to 89% in meat producing ruminants’ farms, 100% in dairy goats’ farms, and values compensating the total emissions in the case of Iberian montanera pig farms.