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VIDEO: "Grasslands beef certification in Argentina" by Gustavo Marino
I Conference on medicine and conservation of wildlife and unconventional company animals
Specialization in Pastoral Systems management
Biodiversity as a synonym for quality meat
The quality of Argentina’s world famous beef can be traced back to the tradition of grazing the animals on the open range and their grass-based diet, a fact that is now valued and rewarded throughout the world. In this context, the production of Pampas grassland beef, i.e., a nutritious, healthy and natural grassland biodiversity 'friendly' product is an interesting option for livestock producers.
Beef produced on the basis of pasture grasses has a higher nutritional value -higher content of Beta-carotene, conjugated linoleicacids, and Omega-3 fatty acids, lower in cholesterol - and a lower content of bacteria (Escheria and Campylobacter). But in addition, if the forrage comes from native grasslands rather than exotic species pasture, the environmental impact generated during the production process will be much lower. And if these grasslands sustain a species in danger of extinction, such as the Pampas Deer or endangered grassland birds, a Pampas grassland beef label could have high impact on the market and enhance the business. Worldwide, the quality of a type of meat that aims to achieve good sales in the market also depends on biodiversity care.
Knowledge is the best practice
Knowledge of the communities or pasture types and their most common plant species is one of the first steps. Knowing that the status of the grassland depends, in most cases, on how they have been managed has its benefits. It will then be possible to understand the transitional stages of the grasslands, that it is a vital piece of information for their management and, in particular, for the selection of techniques to improve them.
A rapid diagnosis including the recognition of dominant species will let you know the state of your grassland. Continuous grazing, a traditional method used in free-range livestock production, has severely deteriorated vegetation, wild animal population and the soils of the region. For this reason it is desirable to determine from the outset what the farmland’s limitations are.
Based on our surveys of the vegetation at the pilot sites (through agricultural thematic maps), we prepared a work plan, which includes the calculation of the stocking rate for each paddock, and grassland management proposals.
In general, best practices include:
• Rotation grazing and adjustment of stocking rates.
• Enrichment of the grasslands with forage species and strategic fertilization.
• Use of prescribed fire.
• Surplus water management.
• Use of closures in the form of natural vegetation strips.