| ||A new study has found that Canada’s beef industry continues to improve efficiencies that lessen its environmental impacts, with production of one kilogram of Canadian beef creating 15% fewer greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 as compared to 1981.
Continual improvements in production and feed efficiencies, crop yields and management strategies, resulting in reduced emissions and resource requirements, were largely responsible for the significant decrease in environmental impact, according to the first results of a comprehensive five-year (2013-2018) study examining the Canadian beef industry’s environmental footprint.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Manitoba, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Lethbridge and Environment Canada, the study found that there has been a 15% decrease in methane, 16% decrease in nitrous dioxide and 13% decrease in carbon dioxide from beef production in Canada over the recent 30 year period. Comparing the same time periods, it took 29% fewer cattle in the breeding herd and 24% less land to produce the same amount of beef. This study explored the entire production system – from cow-calf to feedlot. Future phases of the study will assess the impact of Canadian beef production in areas such as water use, biodiversity and provision of ecosystems services.
“We’re working to get a more accurate assessment of the Canadian beef industry’s environmental footprint and these results indicate that the footprint per kilogram of beef produced is getting smaller,” says Dr. Tim McAllister, a research scientist at AAFC Lethbridge and one of the study’s principal investigators. “The decreased emissions and reduced resource requirements to produce beef over the past few decades, due in part to enhanced production and feed efficiencies, crop yields and management practices, wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for investments in research and development, and the industry’s ability to adopt those technologies.”
For more information, go to the Beef Cattle Research Council webpage.
Beef Extension Coordinator
Beef Cattle Research Council