Land use efficiency of beef systems in the Northeastern USA from a food supply perspective

Nicole Tichenor, H.H.E. van Zanten, I.J.M. de Boer, C.J. Peters, A.C. Carthy, T.S. Griffin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Abstract

One widely recognized strategy to meet future food needs is reducing the amount of arable land used for livestock feed production. Of all livestock products, beef is the largest land user per unit output. Whether beef production results in feedfood competition or a net positive contribution to the food supply, however, may depend largely on whether marginal land is used for forage. Van Zanten et al. (2015) developed the land use ratio (LUR) to identify livestock systems that provide more food than could be produced by converting their suitable feed land to food crops. While Van Zanten et al. (2015) used country and farm-level suitability data, the former may not be high enough resolution for large countries, and the latter may not be available in many countries. We developed a method that integrates geospatial data to estimate crop suitability and yield at multiple scales into the LUR, broadening its applicability. We illustrated this approach with grass-fed beef (GF) and dairy beef (DB) case study systems in the Northeastern USA, including multiple scenarios limiting land conversion. All systems had LURs greater than one, indicating they produce less protein than conversion of their suitable land bases to food cropping would. Because a large fraction of the forage land used in the GF system was suitable for crop production and moderately productive, its LUR was 3-6 times larger (less efficient) than the DB system. Future research should explore mechanisms to improve LUR and life cycle environmental burdens of these regional production systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 10th international conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event10th international conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 19 Oct 201621 Oct 2016

Conference

Conference10th international conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food
CountryIreland
CityDublin
Period19/10/1621/10/16

Keywords

  • Land use ratio
  • food security
  • beef production

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    Tichenor, N., van Zanten, H. H. E., de Boer, I. J. M., Peters, C. J., Carthy, A. C., & Griffin, T. S. (2016). Land use efficiency of beef systems in the Northeastern USA from a food supply perspective. In Book of Abstracts of the 10th international conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food [125]