Livestock are essential in many farming systems where they provide income, food and power, or where they enhance soil fertility or the socioeconomic situation of farmers. However, livestock can also cause environmental degradation, pollution and social inequality. The contradiction between these views lies in differences between production systems, here called modes of agriculture. This paper starts, therefore, by giving a classification of livestock systems as a framework to rethink the role of livestock in high-input agriculture. The classification explains what is meant by high-input systems by placing them in a sequence of modes in agriculture that each face sustainability problems in different ways. Secondly, the paper discusses negative effects of livestock in high-input systems by zooming in on nitrogen surpluses in dairy farming of the Netherlands. It then elaborates ways to cope with these problems by distinguishing between linear and dynamic aspects. Linear aspects refer to reductionist approaches like other methods of feeding, housing and/or manure application. Dynamic aspects refer to holistic approaches which acknowledge that an intervention in one part of the system affects the functioning of the system elsewhere. Examples of practical and administrative measures regarding the rethinking of high-input systems are elaborated.
|Publication status||Published - 1999|