Perspective

Smart Investments in Sustainable Food Production: Revisiting Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems

Science  12 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5967, pp. 822-825
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183725

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Abstract

Farmers in mixed crop-livestock systems produce about half of the world’s food. In small holdings around the world, livestock are reared mostly on grass, browse, and nonfood biomass from maize, millet, rice, and sorghum crops and in their turn supply manure and traction for future crops. Animals act as insurance against hard times and supply farmers with a source of regular income from sales of milk, eggs, and other products. Thus, faced with population growth and climate change, small-holder farmers should be the first target for policies to intensify production by carefully managed inputs of fertilizer, water, and feed to minimize waste and environmental impact, supported by improved access to markets, new varieties, and technologies.

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