How to Develop Grass-based Livestock Husbandry in Areas of Low- and Middle-yield Fields
(2.Bureau of Sciences & Technology for Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China 100864)
(3.University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China 100049)
【Abstract】With increasing awareness of balanced and healthy diet, the demand for ruminant products has been drastically increasing in China over the past decades. Grass-based Livestock Husbandry (GLiH), a new paradigm for agricultural restructuring and sustainable development, is highly encouraged to meet such demand. Yet, the country’s own production cannot support the demand, as envisaged by the soaring import of both red meat and forage products, albeit half of the nation’s cereal production is devoted to animal feed and forage crop production area amounts to 12 million hectares. With the abundant population and limited arable land, China is facing challenge to explore possible land areas for GLiH development. We argue that one of the effective ways is to transform the low- and middle-yield fields, which account for over 70% of the cultivated lands, for forage crop production. Our analysis indicated that cultivation of forage crops could avoid the risks of low yield and low economic returns frequently occurring for cereal production on such lands. Furthermore, a forage–cereal rotation cropping system can significantly increase dry mass production, reduce the incidence of pest and disease damage, and ameliorate soil physical and chemical properties by improving soil organic matter and soil fertility and reducing salt and alkali constraints. Three scenarios have been projected for the potential of the exploitation of low- and middle-yield land for livestock production, and the amount of the red meat production is estimated to be 17.98, 21.58, and 26.98 million tons, respectively, which are 1.6, 1.9, and 2.4 times of the current production nationwide. A case study for Shandong Province is further presented, demonstrating that exploring the saline-alkali land at the Yellow River Delta for forage crop production could substantially alleviate the shortage of forage supplies and optimize the agricultural infrastructure of the province.
【Keywords】 Grass-based Livestock Husbandry (GLiH); low- and middle-yield land; saline-alkali land; the Yellow River Delta;
(Translated by XU XY)
. (1) Data source: China Statistical Yearbook. [^Back]
. (2) One unit of sheep is defined as an adult ewe weighing 50 kg and consuming 1.8 kg standard hay per day; a cow/cattle is evaluated as 5 sheep units. [^Back]
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