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A shift from extensive to intensive livestock production system in Uruguay: Driver of local changes in water-related ecosystem services?
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Livestock production is one of the largest and fastest growing agricultural subsectors in the world, contributing almost 40 % of agricultural GDP. The present global trend of livestock intensification affects water demand, resulting in local alterations of hydrological features. This study quantifies water requirements for livestock production and links them to local changes in water-related ecosystem services (WRES). It examines the present situation in Uruguayan beef production as it undergoes an intensification process by analyzing three systems: traditional extensive production, mixed systems and intensive production.Mixed production systems are most water-effective in terms of water requirement. However, extensive production has the least negative long-term effects on the studied WRESs: soil productivity, erosion control and grass, crop and livestock production. Intensive systems contribute the largest negative impacts on soil productivity due to management practices, e.g. continuous cropping and fertilizer application (which is also costly). However, intensification also increases short-term positive effects on crop and livestock production. Mixed systems offer opportunities to increase livestock production, water use efficiency and mitigate soil degradation. However, a threshold value to avoid an undesirable regime shift in soil productivity remains to be determined.This framework developed herein, maps and quantifies local ecosystem effects associated with livestock production from a water perspective. It required simplifications and thus needs further improvements to be of practical use as a tool for best management practices of livestock production. Such tools can assist decision-makers in Uruguay on how to manage multiple ecosystem services in an agricultural landscape and enhance the provision of desired ES without degrading other key ecosystem processes, goods and services. For sustainable production of livestock in Uruguay, one should consider if the tradeoff between long-term negative impacts of intensification on regulating services is justifiable in the context of the short-term economic gains in provisioning services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 62 p.
Keyword [en]
consumptive water use; water-related ecosystem services; livestock production; extensive and intensive agriculture; regime shift; conceptual matrix
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-81339OAI: diva2:560980
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2012-10-16 Created: 2012-10-16 Last updated: 2012-10-16Bibliographically approved

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