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Potential of legume-based grassland-livestock systems in Europe

Lüscher, A., Mueller-Harvey, I., Soussana, J. F., Rees, R.M. and Peyraud, J.L. (2013) Potential of legume-based grassland-livestock systems in Europe. In: 17th Symposium of the European Grassland Federation. Grassland Science in Europe, 23-26 June 2013, Akureyri, Iceland, pp. 3-29.

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Abstract/Summary

European grassland-based livestock production systems are challenged to produce more milk and meat to meet increasing world demand and to achieve this by using fewer resources. Legumes offer great potential for coping with such requests. They have numerous features that can act together at different stages in the soil-plant-animal-atmosphere system and these are most effective in mixed swards with a legume abundance of 30-50%. The resulting benefits are a reduced dependency on fossil energy and industrial N fertilizer, lower quantities of harmful emissions to the environment (greenhouse gases and nitrate), lower production costs, higher productivity and increased protein self-sufficiency. Some legume species offer opportunities for improving animal health with less medication due to bioactive secondary metabolites. In addition, legumes may offer an option for adapting to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations and to climate change. Legumes generate these benefits at the level of the managed land area unit and also at the level of the final product unit. However, legumes suffer from some limitations, and suggestions are made for future research in order to exploit more fully the opportunities that legumes can offer. In conclusion, the development of legume-based grassland-livestock systems undoubtedly constitutes one of the pillars for more sustainable and competitive ruminant production systems, and it can only be expected that legumes will become more important in the future.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Food Production and Quality Division > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:36108
Uncontrolled Keywords:yield, symbiotic N2 fixation, forage quality, nutritive value, voluntary intake, animal performance, greenhouse gas emission, nitrate leaching, condensed tannins, animal health, clover, climate change, energy, plant secondary metabolites, management
Publisher Statement:ISBN 9789979881209

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