Pigeon peas in pasture reduce methane emissions

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photo: reproduction

The efficient use of pigeon pea BRS Mandarin intercropped with Marandu and Basilisk grasses increased bovine weight gain and emitted less methane per kilo obtained. The daily emission of gas per kilogram of weight gain was 614.05 grams in the intercropped pasture, about 70% less than non-degraded, with 2,022.67 grams.

Productivity was also better in the intercropped treatment with pigeon pea. The animals gained 478 grams per day, while in the degraded one, 302 grams per day of average annual weight gain. An increase of 58% compared to degraded pasture.

The technology can be advantageous not only for ranchers, but also for the country, which, in 2021, during the 26th United Nations Climate Conference (COP 26), in Scotland, committed to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

According to Alexandre Berndt, general manager of Embrapa Pecuária Sudeste (SP), any technology that reduces methane, at low cost, and that contributes to the efficiency of the production system and to sustainability is desirable and should be adopted.

The research, developed in partnership between Embrapa Pecuária Sudeste, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science at the University of São Paulo (FMVZ/USP) and the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture at the University of São Paulo (Cena/USP), in Piracicaba (SP), evaluated the performance and the emission of enteric methane (resulting from the digestive process) of Nellore steers in three different production systems, including the intercropping with pigeon pea BRS Mandarim.

The researchers presented the abstract of the work during the “VIII International Congress on Greenhouse Gases in Animal Production Systems (GGAA 2022)”held from June 5th to 7th, in Orlando, Florida (USA).

Pigeon pea viability

Pinto beans

Photo: Marcos Santos/USP Images

For researcher Patrícia Perondi Anchão Oliveira, from Embrapa, degraded pasture is always the worst of all scenarios. In general, the degradation process is characterized by a marked loss of pasture productivity (low productivity), large areas of exposed soils, weeds, erosion, evident symptoms of nutritional deficiency in plants and animals, and a slower growth rate of plants, which are reflected in environmental issues.

“Under these conditions, the soil is exhausted, compromising the production and quality of forage and the performance of the animals, facts that increase the emission of enteric methane, in addition to the process of loss of organic matter from the soil, which impairs the sequestration of carbon”, emphasizes Patricia.

The researcher recalls that the recovery of pastures from the insertion of legumes is a solution that is much sought after in the technical-scientific environment, a challenge of several decades, because through biological nitrogen fixation, the legume provides this nutrient both for animal feed and for soil improvement.

“In times of scarcity and high prices for nitrogen fertilizers and mineral protein supplements, in addition to concerns about enteric methane emissions, this type of technology is even more relevant”, adds the Embrapa professional.

Studies with a consortium of grasses and legumes, such as pigeon peas, can improve animal performance with sustainability, believes Furtado. “Further research is still needed. However, when thinking about grass-fed beef production, with low emissions, this would be a viable alternative”, he highlights.

Contribution to SDGs

bean crop

Photo: Faep

The results of this research with pigeon peas contribute to alternatives for adaptation and mitigation in the face of the effects of climate change, for the more sustainable development of Brazilian livestock and directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 13. (UN), which is “To adopt urgent measures to combat climate change and its impacts”.

With information from Embrapa.

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