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Animal The international journal of animal biosciences






Elsevier BV

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


We face an urgent and complex challenge to produce large amounts of healthful animal and plant foods for an estimated 10 billion people by 2050 while maintaining essential ecosystem services. To compound this challenge, we must do so while not further degrading our environment and conserving essential nutrients such as copper, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc that are in short supply for fertilization. Much good research has been done, but to meet this challenge, we need to greatly increase on-farm and watershed-scale research including on-farm evaluations and demonstrations of the putative best combinations of stewardship techniques over multiple years in real-world settings, which are backed by data on nutrient inputs, soil, air, and water chemistry (fluxes) and water discharge. We also need to work with farmers, specialists, and generalists in highly creative interdisciplinary teams that resist forming silos and that use combinations of techniques linked to agroecology and industrial ecology in combination with state-of-the-art engineering. Some of these research and demonstration farms need to be in catchments prone to pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems with nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients. Some promising approaches include mixed crop-livestock systems, although these alone may not be productive enough without updating to meet the dietary needs of an estimated 10 billion people by 2050. Other approaches could be state-of-the-art multi-trophic production systems, which include several species of plants integrated into production with vertebrates (e.g., ruminants, pigs, poultry), invertebrates (e.g., insects, earthworms) and fish, shrimp, or crayfish to utilize wasted feed and excreta, and recycle nutrients back to the animals (via plants or invertebrates) in the systems. To cut costs and increase desirable outputs, we must recycle nutrients much better within our food production systems and produce both animal and plant foods more efficiently as nutrients cycle through systems.


Publication published by Elsevier BV in Animal.