• Reducing the carbon footprint of red meat

      Hyland, John; Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship; Hybu Cig Cymru; Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (2015)
      The contribution of ruminant agriculture towards climate change is significant and responsible for approximately 14.5% of anthropogenic global greenhouse gas emissions. The reduction of sectorial emissions is dependent on farmer decision-making at a multitude of scales, which comprise of the field scale, the farm, farmer typologies (farm scale with focus on farmers), and the community-scale. This conceptual framework provides the basis for the research carried out in this PhD. The first research chapter builds upon previous work carried out by Bangor University where farmers deemed the most practical mitigation measure they could adopt on their farming enterprises was the planting of leguminous crops. The research in this thesis demonstrated that grass-clover systems offered the same yield as grass swards receiving conventional amounts of nitrogen fertiliser. However, nitrous oxide emissions from the grass-clover sward were significantly lower. My second research chapter moves onto the farm scale and investigates the carbon footprint (CF) from 15 farming enterprises over two timescales. Considerable reductions in the CF of beef and lamb were demonstrated if efficiencies were increased to match those of the least-emitting producers. On-farm decisions are motivated by personal interests and goals. Hence, the third research chapter identifies distinct types of farmers based on perceptions of climate change. Four farmer types were identified which can aid the dissemination of climate change information and consequently increase the adoption of climate change measures. The final chapter evaluates social capital and collaboration amongst farmers at the community scale; such interactions can serve to facilitate mitigation and adaptation. Although overall collaboration was low, there was considerable latent social capital which can be used to further encourage collective action. The work carried out in this thesis can help reduce the livestock sector’s greenhouse gas emissions across numerous scales; thereby helping the industry meet its emission targets.