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Sustainability of organic and conventional beef cattle farms in SW Spanish rangelands (‘dehesas’): a comparative study

Escribano, A.J.; Mesias, F.J.; Gaspar, P.; Escribano, M. and Pulido, F. (2012) Sustainability of organic and conventional beef cattle farms in SW Spanish rangelands (‘dehesas’): a comparative study. In: Book of abstracts. 10TH European IFSA Symposium. Producing and reproducing farming systems. New modes of organization for sustainable food systems of tomorrow..

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Organic production in Spain has increased substantially in recent years due to several factors, such as the growing interest of the European Union towards preserving sensitive ecosystems; the potential role of organic production in the socio-economic development of rural areas and the growing consumers' demand for safer and higher quality foods. Within this framework, this paper analyzes the beef sector of SW Spanish rangelands (dehesas). These are traditional systems characteristic of the Iberian Peninsula where native herbaceous vegetation and evergreen species of Quercus provide the basis for extensive beef farms. Alt-hough traditional management in dehesa farms is of vital importance for the sustainability of this particular ecosystem, in the last years many farms have turned to organic production, trying to take advantage both of new subsidies and of new market trends.With this study, we try to evalu-ate the sustainability of conventional and organic beef production systems in dehesas in Extre-madura (SW Spain), trying to determine the level these systems are contributing both to the preservation of this sensitive ecosystem and to the socioeconomic development of the region. To this end, we apply a methodological adaptation of the MESMIS methodology to 90 dehesa beef farms located in Extremadura (SW Spain). MESMIS is based on the evaluation of basic attributes of sustainability that allow one to make a simultaneous and comparative analysis of different types of farms. It has been found that organic farms are the most sustainable, obtaining higher scores than con-ventional farms in stability and self-reliance, and similar scores in productivity, adaptability, and equity. Organic dehesa beef farms show little dependence on external products and services and are more adapted to their environment (lower stocking rates for an optimal use of the system's feedstuff production), those being the clues for their enhanced sustainability.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Speech
Keywords:Sustainability, beef cattle
Agrovoc keywords:
Sustainable agriculture
organic husbandry
Beef cattle
Subjects: Farming Systems > Farm economics
Animal husbandry > Production systems > Beef cattle
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Environmental aspects
Research affiliation: Spain > University of Extremadura
Deposited By: Escribano, Dr. Alfredo J
ID Code:29136
Deposited On:04 Dec 2015 09:41
Last Modified:04 Dec 2015 09:41
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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