Today is Earth Day, but as agriculturists and scientists, we believe every day is Earth Day. As more research is completed and published, farmers and ranchers learn about different practices to test out and possibly implement in their operation. They value the land and animals they work with, which is why they are open to sustainable practices. One popular practice is planting cover crops in the fall that will remain in fields until it’s time to plant the main crop in the spring. Cover crops protect farmland by reducing soil erosion and improving water quality, nutrient management, and forage and soil quality. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 15.3 million acres in the United States were seeded with cover crops.
UC-Davis researchers won a USDA grant and used it to create a genome-edited calf. They utilized CRISPR, a genome-engineering technique that used a specialized stretch of DNA that acts like a pair of scissors to cut DNA strands. Cutting the DNA and inserting SRY onto the X chromosome of bovine embryos increased the chance of producing a male herd. Why would the researchers do this? Because male cattle are 15% more efficient than heifers when converting feed into weight gain. Less feed = smaller environmental impact. While this calf won’t end up in the food supply chain, it’s great to see research being done on ways to improve livestock efficiency. This video from UC-Davis explains the steps that were required to get the calf on the ground.
Some quick facts from Animal Agriculture Alliance on livestock sustainability:
Recent events in the news:
CAST Publications from the past:
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