Nitrogen pollution from cattle production in India: A review of the social, cultural and economic influences

Yu Zhou, Niveta Jain, Girish Kumar Jha, T Begho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Livestock plays a crucial role in food and nutrition security. However, livestock production accounts for 0.18 of global greenhouse gas emissions. India has one of the highest livestock densities globally, mainly produced under traditional systems. Specifically, the emission and particularly nitrogen losses from cattle in traditional systems cannot be ignored. Nitrogen emission is substantial when cattle roam free and waste is not collected or managed efficiently. This paper reviews the literature to piece together the available information on nitrogen emissions from cattle in India to synthesise the evidence, identify gaps, and contribute to further understanding of the problem. At the same time, the paper highlights the solutions to reduce nitrogen pollution from cattle production in India. The main findings are that most cattle in India are not reared to provide meat protein. The implication is that reactive nitrogen per capita consumption is lower than most developed countries. However, there are substantial inefficiencies in feed conversion, feed nitrogen use, and manure management in India. As a result, nitrogen losses and wastage are considerable in the different production systems. Furthermore, the review suggests that social, cultural, and economic factors such as convergent social behaviour, urbanisation, regulations, changing consumption patterns, the demand for cheap fuel sources, culture and religion influence the production systems and, consequently, the emissions from livestock. Suggested solutions to reduce nitrogen pollution from cattle production in India are improving livestock productivity, adopting better feeding, manure and pasture management practices and using behavioural nudges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-106
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Agricultural Science
Volume160
Issue number1-2
Early online date6 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 6 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Environment
  • livestock
  • nitrogen
  • pollution
  • sustainable management
  • waste
  • emission
  • reactive nitrogen
  • environment
  • Emission

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