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Special Issue "Grazing in Future Multi-Scapes: From Thoughtscapes to Landscapes, Creating Health from the Ground Up"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 6632

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Iain J. Gordon
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Fenner School for Environment and Society, Australian National University, Acton, ACT 2100, Australia
2. Central Queensland University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
3. Land and Water, CSIRO, QLD 4810, Australia
4. James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen AB10 8QH, UK
Interests: conservation; biodiversity; agriculture; food security; climate change
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Pablo Gregorini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Science, Cente of Excellence Designing Future Productive Landscapes, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Interests: livestock production systems, ruminant nutrition, foraging ecology & behavior, ecological modelling, agroecosystems design
Prof. Fred Provenza
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA
Interests: behavioral/nutritional ecology; foraging behavior; behavior-based management of landscapes; community-based local adaptation; wildlife-livestock interactions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Throughout different landscapes of the world, “grazing” herbivores fulfill essential roles in ecology, agriculture, economies and cultures, including families, farms and communities. Not only do livestock provide food and wealth, but they also deliver ecosystem services through the roles they play in environmental composition, structure and dynamics. Grazing, as a descriptive adjective, locates herbivores within a spatial and temporal pastoral context where they naturally graze or are grazed by farmers, ranchers, shepherds, etc. In many cases, however, pastoralism with the single objective of maximizing animal production and/or profit has transformed landscapes, diminishing biodiversity, reducing water and air quality, accelerating loss of soil and plant biomass and displacing indigenous animals and people. These degenerative landscape transformations have jeopardized present and future ecosystem and societal services, breaking the natural integration of land, water, air, health, society and culture. Land-users, policy makers and societies are calling for alternative approaches to pastoral systems—a call for diversified-adaptive and integrative agroecological and food–pastoral-system designs that operate across multiple scales and ‘scapes’ (e.g. thought-, social-, land-, food-, health-, wildscapes) simultaneously. There needs to be a paradigm shift in pastoral production systems and how grazing herbivores are managed—grazed—within them, derived initially from a change in perception of how they provide wealth.

The thoughtscapes will include paradigm shifts where grazers move away from the actual archetype of pastoralism, future landscapes are re-imagined, and regenerative and sustainable management paradigms are put in place to achieve these visions. From this will come a change in collective thinking of how communities and cultures (socialscapes) perceive their relationships with pastoral lands. The landscapes are the biotic and abiotic four-dimensional domains or environments in need of nurture. Landscapes are the tables where humans and herbivores gain their nourishment, i.e., foodscapes. Foodscapes and dietary perceptions dictate actions and reactions that are changing as developed countries grapple with diseases related to obesity and people starve in developing countries. Societies are demanding healthscapes and nutraceutical foodscapes and, paradoxically, some are moving away from animal products. While indigenous species of animals, including humans (wildscapes), have been displaced from many of their lands by monotonic pastoralism, multifunctional pastoral systems can be designed in view of dynamic multiscapes of the future.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to influence future mental and practical models of pastoralism in continually evolving multiscapes. We seek a collection of papers that will cultivate such a shift in thinking towards future models of sustainable multipurpose pastoralism. The contributions will be synthesized to establish how multifunctional pastoral systems can be re-imagined and then designed in view of the integrative dynamics of sustainable future multiscapes. The Special Issue is linked to a Workshop to be held in Christchurch, New Zealand in July 2021 (see https://web.cvent.com/event/3bcbdfc4-ff78-4f6d-804d-7bdedfeb8c8d/summary ).

Prof. Iain Gordon
Prof. Pablo Gregorini
Prof. Fred Provenza
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • grazing
  • herbivores
  • land
  • sustainability
  • health
  • agriculture
  • pastoralism

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Using Soil Sustainability and Resilience Concepts to Support Future Land Management Practice: A Case Study of Mt Grand Station, Hāwea, New Zealand
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1808; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031808 - 05 Feb 2022
Viewed by 455
Abstract
Soil acts as the integrator of processes operating within the biological and hydrological landscapes and responds to external disturbances and processes on varying time scales. The impact of any change results in a corresponding response in the system; which is dependent on the [...] Read more.
Soil acts as the integrator of processes operating within the biological and hydrological landscapes and responds to external disturbances and processes on varying time scales. The impact of any change results in a corresponding response in the system; which is dependent on the resistance of the soil system to the disturbance. Irreversible permanent change results when the soil system shifts over a threshold tipping point; with the soil system experiencing a regime shift with associated structural and functional collapse. Climate change is the most important external disturbance or stressor on these systems due to changes in precipitation, temperature and moisture regimes. Our research at Mt Grand is focused on approaches to increasing land use resiliency in the face of environmental change. Our purpose is to select and apply soil quality indices which can be used to assess soil resilience to external disturbance events for Mt Grand Station in New Zealand. We will identify biophysical variations and landscape drivers in soil resilience; and use these results to match land management practices with variations in soil resilience. For example, soils with low resilience will only have land management practices that have a low impact on the soil resource. We selected soil attributes that represented indicators of resistance, used to quantify the capacity of a soil to recover its functionality. We mapped this soil resilience framework against a national database of soil and landscape attributes for Mt Grand Station. The output from this research is to posit a conceptual framework of soil quality indices which relates to soil resilience, and thus to create a spatial map of soil resilience for Mt Grand Station. Full article
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Article
Applying Spatial Analysis to Create Modern Rich Pictures for Grassland Health Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11535; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011535 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 668
Abstract
Grasslands are complex and heterogeneous ecosystems, and their health can be defined by the cumulative ability of their components to evolve, adapt, and maintain their integrity in the presence of stress/disturbance and provide ecosystem services. Herein, a design approach is used to generate [...] Read more.
Grasslands are complex and heterogeneous ecosystems, and their health can be defined by the cumulative ability of their components to evolve, adapt, and maintain their integrity in the presence of stress/disturbance and provide ecosystem services. Herein, a design approach is used to generate alternative and multifunctional pastoral livestock production systems that enhance grassland health. As a way of understanding the complexity of grasslands and initiating the design process using systems thinking, rich pictures emerge as a useful method. As rich pictures are subjective views, geographic information systems (GIS) could be applied to improve the veracity of their outcomes, as both techniques are forms of an analytical process. This paper reports the application of GIS to a case study of a high-country farm to generate and combine different thematic maps to create a modern rich picture. The rich picture is a combination of remote sensing data (altitude, slope, aspects, and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)), and on-the-ground data (plant species distribution and diversity and soil chemical, biological, and physical parameters). Layers were combined using a multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) based on the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) to create a final rich picture. The results highlight dissimilarities in perceptions of what underpins ‘grassland health’ between researchers in different fields and with different perspectives. The use of GIS produced a modern rich picture that enhanced the understanding of grassland health and allowed for the identification of gaps, values, and possibilities for future research work. Full article
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Article
Rangeland Land-Sharing, Livestock Grazing’s Role in the Conservation of Imperiled Species
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4466; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084466 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1509
Abstract
Land sharing, conserving biodiversity on productive lands, is globally promoted. Much of the land highest in California’s biodiversity is used for livestock production, providing an opportunity to understand land sharing and species conservation. A review of United States Fish and Wildlife Service listing [...] Read more.
Land sharing, conserving biodiversity on productive lands, is globally promoted. Much of the land highest in California’s biodiversity is used for livestock production, providing an opportunity to understand land sharing and species conservation. A review of United States Fish and Wildlife Service listing documents for 282 threatened and endangered species in California reveals a complex and varied relationship between grazing and conservation. According to these documents, 51% or 143 of the federally listed animal and plant species are found in habitats with grazing. While livestock grazing is a stated threat to 73% (104) of the species sharing habitat with livestock, 59% (85) of the species are said to be positively influenced, with considerable overlap between species both threatened and benefitting from grazing. Grazing is credited with benefiting flowering plants, mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crustaceans, and bird species by managing the state’s novel vegetation and providing and maintaining habitat structure and ecosystem functions. Benefits are noted for species across all of California’s terrestrial habitats, except alpine, and for some aquatic habitats, including riparian, wetlands, and temporary pools. Managed grazing can combat anthropomorphic threats, such as invasive species and nitrogen deposition, supporting conservation-reliant species as part of land sharing. Full article
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Article
Mechanisms of Grazing Management in Heterogeneous Swards
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8676; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208676 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1455
Abstract
We explored the effects of heterogeneity of sward height on the functioning of grazing systems through a spatially implicit mechanistic model of grazing and sward growth. The model uses a population dynamic approach where a sward is spatially structured by height, which changes [...] Read more.
We explored the effects of heterogeneity of sward height on the functioning of grazing systems through a spatially implicit mechanistic model of grazing and sward growth. The model uses a population dynamic approach where a sward is spatially structured by height, which changes as a function of defoliation, trampling, and growth. The grazing component incorporates mechanisms of bite formation, intake, and digestion rates, but excludes sward quality effects. Sward height selection is determined by maximization of the instantaneous intake rate of forage dry mass. For any given average sward height, intake rate increased with increasing spatial heterogeneity. Spatio-temporal distribution of animal density over paddocks did not markedly affect animal performance but it modified the balance of vegetation heterogeneity within and between paddocks. Herbage allowance was a weak predictor of animal performance because the same value can result from multiples combinations of herbage mass per unit area, number of animals, animal liveweight, and paddock area, which are the proximate determinants of intake rate. Our results differ from models that assume homogeneity and provide strong evidence of how heterogeneity influences the dynamic of grazing systems. Thus, we argue that grazing management and research need to incorporate the concept of heterogeneity into the design of future grazing systems. Full article
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Review

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Review
Multiscapes and Urbanisation: The Case for Spatial Agroecology
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1352; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031352 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 600
Abstract
The two most significant signatures of the Anthropocene—agriculture and urbanisation—have yet to be studied synoptically. The term periurban is used to describe territory where the urbanising trend of the planet extends into multiscapes. A periurban praxis is required that spatially reconciles urbanisation and [...] Read more.
The two most significant signatures of the Anthropocene—agriculture and urbanisation—have yet to be studied synoptically. The term periurban is used to describe territory where the urbanising trend of the planet extends into multiscapes. A periurban praxis is required that spatially reconciles urbanisation and agriculture, simultaneously permitting urban growth and the enhancement of critical ecosystem services provided by agricultural hinterlands. This paper presents a synthesis of four fields of ecological research that converge on periurban multiscapes—ecological urbanism, landscape ecology, ecosystem services science and agroecology. By applying an ecosystem services approach, a diagram is developed that connects these fields as a holistic praxis for spatially optimising periurban multiscapes for ecosystem services performance. Two spatial qualities of agroecology—‘ES Density’ and ‘ES Plasticity’—potentiate recent areas of research in each of the other three fields—ecology for the city from ecological urbanism, landscape metrics from landscape ecology (particularly the potential application of fractals and surface metrics) and ecosystem services supply and demand mapping and ‘ES Space’ theory from ecosystems services science. While the multifunctional value of agroecological systems is becoming widely accepted, this paper focuses on agroecology’s specific spatial value and its unique capacity to supply ecosystem services specifically tailored to the critical ecosystemic demands of periurban multiscapes. Full article
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Review
Animal as the Solution: Searching for Environmentally Friendly Dairy Cows
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10451; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810451 - 20 Sep 2021
Viewed by 739
Abstract
There is increasing societal concern surrounding the environmental externalities generated from ruminant production systems. Traditional responses to address these externalities have often been system-based. While these approaches have had promising results, they have served to view the animal as a problem that needs [...] Read more.
There is increasing societal concern surrounding the environmental externalities generated from ruminant production systems. Traditional responses to address these externalities have often been system-based. While these approaches have had promising results, they have served to view the animal as a problem that needs solving, rather than as a potential solution. This review attempts to answer the question: can we breed animals that are more environmentally friendly to address environmental outcomes and satisfy consumer demand? This was done by exploring the literature of examples where animals have been specifically bred to reduce their environmental impact. The use of milk urea nitrogen breeding values has been demonstrated as a tool allowing for selective breeding of dairy cows to reduce nitrogen losses. Low milk urea nitrogen breeding values have been documented to result in reduced urinary nitrogen concentrations per urination event, which ultimately reduces the level of nitrogen that will be lost from the system. The ability to breed for low methane emissions has also shown positive results, with several studies demonstrating the heritability and subsequent reductions in methane emissions via selective breeding programs. Several avenues also exist where animals can be selectively bred to increase the nutrient density of their final product, and thus help to address the growing demand for nutrient-dense food for a growing human population. Animal-based solutions are permanent, cumulative, and often more cost-effective than system-based approaches. With continuing research and interest in breeding for more positive environmental outcomes, the animal can now start to be viewed as a potential solution to many of the issues faced by ruminant production systems, rather than simply being seen as a problem. Full article
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