Steps toward sustainable ranching: An emergy evaluation of conventional and holistic management in Chiapas, Mexico
Conventional ranching in Chiapas, Mexico typically includes annual pasture burns and agrochemical use that decrease the biodiversity and forest cover of ranch lands. Members of a holistic ranching "club" in the Frailesca region of Chiapas, Mexico have moved away from this conventional management by eliminating burns and agrochemicals from their systems after decades of use because they believed that the land and their production process were growing unhealthy; they were further motivated by extension courses on holistic ranching. They have also implemented sophisticated systems of rotational grazing and diversified the use of trees. For this study all seven holistic ranchers and 18 neighboring conventional ranchers were interviewed about their cattle ranches and production strategies. An emergy analysis was conducted to compare the resource use, productivity and sustainability of the conventional and holistic ranches. Holistic ranches were found to have double the emergy sustainability index (ESI) values of conventional ranches, and the emergy yield ratio was 25% higher in holistic systems. Government assistance programs were found to have a negative impact on the ESI and were variably administered among holistic ranchers during the year of emergy evaluation. Overall improved emergy sustainability did not decrease milk nor cattle productivity. Transformities and specific emergies, the emergy of one type required to make a unit of energy (transformity) or mass (specific emergy) of another type, did not differ between conventional and holistic systems. Transformities for milk production ranged between 3.4E5 and 1.2E7 solar emjoules/joule (sej/J). Specific emergy for cattle production ranged from 3.5E10 to 1.5E11Â sej/g. To improve the ESI assistance programs could be re-targeted toward incentive programs for increased forest cover in ranching systems and startup costs for holistic ranching. The results from this study show that productivity can be maintained as the sustainability of rural dairy ranches is increased. These results also show that local knowledge and understanding of the surrounding ecosystem can drive positive environmental change in production systems.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Stefano Pagiola & Paola Agostini & José Gobbi & Cees de Haan & Muhammad Ibrahim, 2004. "Paying for Biodiversity Conservation Services in Agricultural Landscapes," Others 0405005, EconWPA.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:103:y:2010:i:9:p:639-646. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.