A dynamic simulation model to assess farm-level effects of pasture intensification strategies on beef herd outputs and carbon footprints in acid soil savannas of Eastern Colombia

Simulación de la intensificación con pasturas en los Llanos de Colombia

Keywords: Environmental impacts, reproduction, land use change, cow-calf systems, Orinoco basin


The neotropical savannas of Eastern Colombia (Llanos) are subjected to changes in land use associated with intensification of beef production and there is limited knowledge on the long-term impacts of these change processes. Furthermore, the effects of spatial and temporal intensification at farm level via the introduction of sown pastures on beef herd outputs, their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the resulting carbon (C) footprints in contrasting savanna landscapes of of the Llanos are unknown. This study was aimed to assess the consequences of gradual system intensification via introduction of sown tropical pastures in two contrasting landscapes, the tillable, flat savannas and the highly dissected rangelands, of the well-drained Eastern savannas of Colombia, in terms of  cow-calf production and GHG emissions and the resulting C footprints. A dynamic model was developed to simulate the gradual introduction of two types of tropical pastures in a region with dissected and steep slopes and limited tillable areas where cattle would also have access to Serrania savanna and sown pastures, versus one located in the Plains that are fully transformed over time with the exclusion of native rangelands. Marked changes in herd demography, animal outputs, and emissions were found over time. The C footprint of all systems varied over time depending upon the length of time that pastures contributed to soil organic carbon accumulation and the balance between savanna and sown pasture areas at a whole farm level. In conclusion, the dynamics of the systems subject to intensification were marked and were dependent on the temporal and spatial deployment of sown forage resources. Therefore, generalizing the trends for the region as a whole result in uncertainty. Nevertheless, examination of simulated prototypes may shed light on the expected trends and provides guidance for decision-making


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Author Biographies

Raul R. Vera-Infanzón, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Interested and working on ruminant production systems under grazing, with emphasis on systems' analyses and modelling. Also, venues for system diversification and value-added products, in particular sheep and beef cattle systems. Interested in characterizing and developing animal products, mainly dairy products, with potential health benefits for consumers. I have a continued interest in the integration of various forage, pasture and rangeland resources to increase systems' efficiency.

Idupulapati M. Rao, International Center for Tropical Agriculture

He is an Emeritus Scientist (Plant Nutritionist and Physiologist) at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). He worked at CIAT, based in Cali, Colombia for 27 years. He has experience across a wide range of agricultural research areas including plant physiology; plant nutrition; agronomy; plant-soil-livestock-climate interactions; and climate variability and change, mostly related to the sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems, especially for smallholders in marginalized environments. He has extensive scientific background with more than 38 years of experience in the implementation of agricultural research and research for development. He worked for about 10 years at the University of Illinois and the University of California before joining CIAT in 1989. His work at CIAT has contributed to the development of abiotic stress (soils and climate)-adapted tropical forage and common bean cultivars for sustainable intensification of crop-livestock systems in the tropics.  As part of multidisciplinary teams, he has gained extensive knowledge and experience to impact on smallholder agriculture through improved food and nutritional security and natural resource management to fulfill United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end extreme poverty and for tackling the climate change. He was also part of the CIAT team that won the excellence in science award from the CGIAR for outstanding partnership in 2001.

Carlos A. Ramírez-Restrepo, CR Eco-efficient Agriculture Consultancy (CREAC®), 46 Bilbao Place, Bushland Beach, QLD 4818, Australia

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics and Animal Scientist with a strong focus on research, teaching, extension, multiculturalism, management, and leadership in terms of pastoralism, ruminant nutrition, metabolism, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, sustainable productivity, and nutritional security. I have also undertaken extra tertiary qualifications to improve business, leadership and management, management of human resources, and training and assessment skills.
Based on collaborative networking and original research, I am progressively developing the Eco-efficient Agriculture Consultancy (CREAC®) service to better understand the environmental impact of cattle production systems and technical interventions in the extensive savanna environment and elsewhere.


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How to Cite
Vera-Infanzón, Raul R., Idupulapati M. Rao, Carlos A. Ramírez-Restrepo, and Fhanor Hoyos-Garcés. 2023. “A Dynamic Simulation Model to Assess Farm-Level Effects of Pasture Intensification Strategies on Beef Herd Outputs and Carbon Footprints in Acid Soil Savannas of Eastern Colombia: Simulación De La intensificación Con Pasturas En Los Llanos De Colombia ”. Latin American Archives of Animal Production 31 (1 in progr), 21-42. https://doi.org/10.53588/alpa.310102.
Original paper