Carbon farming can make beef less terrible for the environment - The Washington Post
Silvopasture systems combine trees, livestock (ruminants like cattle, sheep and goats) and grazing. Ranchers and pastoralists plant trees or manage the land for spontaneous tree growth. The trees provide shade, timber and food for livestock. In most silvopasture systems, the carbon captured in soil and trees more than makes up for the greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide) that ruminants emit through belches and flatulence. One study of intensive silvopasture in Colombia found that emissions from livestock were equal to a quarter to half of the carbon sequestered in soil and biomass.
Could silvopasture make beef climate-friendly? On a given piece of land, yes. But without serious deforestation, there’s just not enough land in the world to meet global beef and dairy demand with silvopasture and managed grazing alone. Americans consume 50-60 grams of animal protein per day, with much of the rest of the world trending toward greater livestock protein consumption. Improved grazing systems, including silvopasture, can probably only provide enough for 7-18 grams per person per day. Making livestock production more climate-friendly must go hand-in-hand with reducing demand through diet change and cutting back on food waste if aggressive climate targets are to be met.