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  • Writer's pictureLuiza Bruscato

Sustainable livestock farming in the pampa gaucho

A few weeks ago, I was in Lavras do Sul presenting "The Challenges of Sustainable Livestock Farming" at ExproLavras, at the invitation of Alianza del Pastizal and its executive director, Pedro Develey. On that occasion, I got to know the incredible work that the livestock farmers in the region are doing.

Livestock production in Rio Grande do Sul has a significant difference from the rest of Brazil: it's possible to produce beef within the biome without modifying it! Yes, cattle graze and feed on the grasses and legumes of the region's natural biome, the pampa.

But doesn't the cattle degrade the biome? No! The cattle actually play a role in balancing this system – as long as an appropriate stocking rate per hectare is respected.

The native grasslands of the pampa have a unique floristic diversity! There are 3,000 plant species, including 450 grasses and 200 legumes, which are not only rich in nutrients but also aid in the better digestion and fattening of the cattle.

It's a sustainable system that also helps maintain carbon in the soil since the natural vegetation is not converted, and following good management practices, it captures carbon from the atmosphere.

By producing within the natural biome, livestock farming also helps preserve more than 266 bird species, with 80 typical of the region's grasslands*. One of the tasks of Alianza del Pastizal is to monitor the bird species being preserved on the properties of the rural producers involved in the project.

So far, on the properties associated with Alianza, the presence of 80% of the grassland bird species regularly occurring in Brazil has been recorded, including 16 of the 23 bird species threatened or nearly threatened with extinction globally and/or regionally. The monitoring is carried out by field technicians who search for and record species through direct observation and listening to their calls. Currently, 262 properties are participating in the project, totaling 204,310 hectares of land.

"It's further proof that in Brazil, it's possible to produce and conserve biodiversity."

*The numbers presented are related to the number of birds collected by the project, however, there are more species in the biome.

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