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Agriculture: Carbon Sequestration

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 13 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the effects on climate change of the practice of mob-grazing of cattle to sequester carbon dioxide in soil. (310000)

DEFRA has not carried out any formal research on the potential for mob-grazing (an extra intensive version of rotational grazing) to permanently sequester carbon in soil. However, an initial assessment from a UK perspective suggests that mob-grazing has limited potential to increase soil carbon and may increase soil compaction and erosion, resulting in a subsequent loss of soil quality and soil carbon. As a result of the density of livestock, mob-grazing practices would also be likely to lead to nutrient ‘hotspots’ which could lead to increased nitrous oxide emissions (a more powerful greenhouse gas) or increased nitrate leaching into water courses.