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Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of the world’s grazing lands: Modeling soil carbon and nitrogen fluxes of mitigation practices

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Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of the world’s grazing lands: Modeling soil carbon and nitrogen fluxes of mitigation practices Henderson, B.B.; Gerber, P.J.; Hilinski, T.E.; Falcucci, A.; Ojima, D.S.; Salvatore, M.; Conant, R.T. This study provides estimates of the net GHG mitigation potential of a selected range of management practices in the world’s native and cultivated grazing lands. The Century and Daycent models are used to calculate the changes in soil carbon stocks, soil N2O emissions, and forage removals by ruminants associated with these practices. GLEAM is used in combination with these models to establish grazing area boundaries and to parameterize links between forage consumption, animal production and animal GHG emissions. This study provides an alternative to the usual approach of extrapolating from a small number of field studies and by modeling the linkage between soil, forage and animals it sheds new light on the net mitigation potential of C sequestration practices in the world’s grazing lands. Three different mitigation practices are assessed in this study, namely, improved grazing management, legume sowing and N fertilization. We estimate that optimization of grazing pressure could sequester 148 Tg CO2 yr−1. The soil C sequestration potential of 203 Tg CO2 yr−1 for legume sowing was higher than for improved grazing management, despite being applied over a much smaller total area. However, N2O emissions from legumes were estimated to offset 28% of its global C sequestration benefits, in CO2 equivalent terms. Conversely, N2O emissions from N fertilization exceeded soil C sequestration, in all regions. Our estimated potential for increasing C stocks though in grazing lands is lower than earlier worldwide estimates (Smith et al., 2007 and Lal, 2004), mainly due to the much smaller grazing land area over which we estimate mitigation practices to be effective. A big concern is the high risk of the practices, particularly legumes, increasing soil-based GHGs if applied outside of this relatively small effective area. More work is needed to develop indicators, based on biophysical and management characteristics of grazing lands, to identify amenable areas before these practices can be considered ready for large scale implementation. The additional ruminant GHG emissions associated with higher forage output are likely to substantially reduce the mitigation potential of these practices, but could contribute to more GHG-efficient livestock production.

Exposure of vaccinated and naive cattle to natural challenge from buffalo-derived Theileria parva

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Exposure of vaccinated and naive cattle to natural challenge from buffalo-derived Theileria parva Sitt, T.; Poole, E.J.; Ndambuk, G.; Mwaura, S.; Njoroge, T.; Omondi, G.P.; Mutinda, M.; Mathenge, J.; Prettejohn, G.; Morrison, W.I.; Toye, P. Integrative management of wildlife and livestock requires a clear understanding of the diseases transmitted between the two populations. The tick-borne protozoan parasite Theileria parva causes two distinct diseases in cattle, East Coast fever and Corridor disease, following infection with parasites derived from cattle or buffalo, respectively. In this study, cattle were immunized with a live sporozoite vaccine containing three T. parva isolates (the Muguga cocktail), which has been used extensively and successfully in the field to protect against cattle-derived T. parva infection. The cattle were exposed in a natural field challenge site containing buffalo but no other cattle. The vaccine had no effect on the survival outcome in vaccinated animals compared to unvaccinated controls: nine out of the 12 cattle in each group succumbed to T. parva infection. The vaccine also had no effect on the clinical course of the disease. A combination of clinical and post mortem observations and laboratory analyses confirmed that the animals died of Corridor disease. The results clearly indicate that the Muguga cocktail vaccine does not provide protection against buffalo-derived T. parva at this site and highlight the need to evaluate the impact of the composition of challenge T. parva populations on vaccine success in areas where buffalo and cattle are present.

An improved simulation model to predict pre-harvest aflatoxin risk in maize

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An improved simulation model to predict pre-harvest aflatoxin risk in maize Chauhan, Y.; Tatnell, J.; Krosch, S.; Karanja, J.; Gnonlonfin, B.; Wanjuki, I.; Wainaina, J.; Harvey, J. Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen produced by Aspergillus flavus, which frequently contaminates maize (Zea mays L.) in the field between 40° north and 40° south latitudes. A mechanistic model to predict risk of pre-harvest contamination could assist in management of this very harmful mycotoxin. In this study we describe an aflatoxin risk prediction model which is integrated with the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) modelling framework. The model computes a temperature function for A. flavus growth and aflatoxin production using a set of three cardinal temperatures determined in the laboratory using culture medium and intact grains. These cardinal temperatures were 11.5 °C as base, 32.5 °C as optimum and 42.5 °C as maximum. The model used a low (≤0.2) crop water supply to demand ratio—an index of drought during the grain filling stage to simulate maize crop's susceptibility to A. flavus growth and aflatoxin production. When this low threshold of the index was reached the model converted the temperature function into an aflatoxin risk index (ARI) to represent the risk of aflatoxin contamination. The model was applied to simulate ARI for two commercial maize hybrids, H513 and H614D, grown in five multi-location field trials in Kenya using site specific agronomy, weather and soil parameters. The observed mean aflatoxin contamination in these trials varied from <1 to 7143 ppb. ARI simulated by the model explained 99% of the variation (p ≤ 0.001) in a linear relationship with the mean observed aflatoxin contamination. The strong relationship between ARI and aflatoxin contamination suggests that the model could be applied to map risk prone areas and to monitor in-season risk for genotypes and soils parameterized for APSIM.

Seminar Presentation – Quantitative and Molecular Aspects of Residual Feed Intake in Meat-Type Chickens

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You are hereby invited to a seminar presentation on “Quantitative and Molecular Aspects of Residual Feed Intake in Meat-Type Chickens” by Professor Samuel (Sammy) Aggrey from the University of Georgia. The seminar will take place on Friday 5th June 2015 in Ndama meeting room starting from 1515hrs through to 1615hrs

Samuel (Sammy) Aggrey is a professor in the Department of Poultry Science, the University of Georgia. His expertise is in the area of population and quantitative genetics, bioinformatics and nutrigenomics. His research focuses on application of statistical models to traits of economic importance in poultry, genotype-nutrition interactions, quantitative and molecular basis for feed utilization efficiency, and nutrigenomics of sulfur amino acids. He is also a faculty member of the Institute of Bioinformatics at the University of Georgia. http://www.poultry.uga.edu/personnel/aggrey.htm

ILRI Kenya: Invitation to a Hard Talk moderated by Brian Perry

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On Behalf of the Livestock Systems and Environment Program, I am pleased to invite you to our LSE seminar series May edition, on 28 May 2015.  The event will take place at the Infocentre at the ILRI campus Nairobi, and will be in form of a ‘Hard Talk’ moderated by Professor Brian Perry.

For participants outside the ILRI Nairobi campus, please find the WebEx meeting connection details below.

The harmonisation of Livestock, People and our Planet Thursday, 28 May 2015 15:30  |  Nairobi Time (Nairobi, GMT+03:00)  |  1 hr 30 mins Join WebEx meeting Meeting number: 842 659 300 Meeting password: 5698 Join by phone +44-203-478-5289 Call-in toll number (UK) Access code: 842 659 300 Global call-in numbers

Involving Farmers in Research to Facilitate Adoption of Agricultural Innovations

CRP1.2Program news -

The ultimate goal of research on agricultural innovation is that it will be useful to farmers to enable them to enhance their productivity, income and living standards. Experience from Northwest Vietnam demonstrates that improving farmers’ participation in research will enable research uptake. Researchers found that farmers’ participation in research will increase their ownership of results […]

Involving Farmers in Research to Facilitate Adoption of Agricultural Innovations

CRP 1.2: news -

The ultimate goal of research on agricultural innovation is that it will be useful to farmers to enable them to enhance their productivity, income and living standards. Experience from Northwest Vietnam demonstrates that improving farmers’ participation in research will enable research uptake. Researchers found that farmers’ participation in research will increase their ownership of results […]

Influencing developing-country decision-makers: 14 things that work–or don’t

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Roy Lichtenstein, Hey You, 1973, (via WikiArt).

Here is some useful advice for those of in development work on what developing-country decision-makers tend to listen to and what they tend to ignore. These excerpts are from a blog post of 12 May 2015 by Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB and author of Oxfam’s blog and book titled From Poverty to Power (follow him on Twitter at @fp2p).

The new report Green quotes from identified:

  • 5 overall trends in external assessment influence
  • 12 attributes of more and less influential assessments
  • 6 factors that make countries more or less likely to draw upon external sources of analysis and advice
  • 12 intended and unintended assessment effects

Note: The numbering below is added for clarity; all the text numbered and set in red is excerpted from the original report, The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change, April 2015.

Green introduces the report

A ‘new report, The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change summarizes a survey of 6,750 policymakers and practitioners in 126 low- and middle-income countries to find out which of the innumerable bits of advice and analysis churned out by aid agencies, international organizations and NGOs actually influence their work.

‘What’s most alarming is how original this is – I am still looking for a similar exercise on the MDGs, which might have made the whole post-2015 process less of a donor-driven gabfest. Right now the SDG wallahs should be reading this paper and asking – what kind of reporting structure might actually influence government behaviour?

1 The family and gender policy domain is one characterized by relatively high levels of external assessment influence, relatively low levels of (net) domestic opposition to reform, and reasonably good odds of success in reform implementation.

This finding suggests that external efforts to encourage and support family and gender reforms may be particularly fruitful.

Anti-corruption stands apart as the policy domain with highest level of (net) domestic opposition to reform and the worst track record of reform implementation.

Green comments: ‘Advocating on family/gender policy has the best chances of success, anti-corruption the worst.’

2 The democracy and decentralization policy domains appear to be least susceptible to external influence at the agenda-setting stage.

3 External assessment influence is strongest at the agenda-setting stage of the policymaking process.

Green comments: ‘– i.e. get in early in the policy funnel, help define problems etc.’

4 Paying attention to ‘nuts and bolts of government’ may result in greater assessment influence.

Green comments: ‘Please note, all campaigners – think about advocating on boring but important stuff like data collection, staff training, info management.’

5 Country-specific diagnostics generally exert greater influence than cross-country benchmarking exercises.

6 External assessments that rely on host government data are more influential.

Green comments: ‘Use government data, rather than your own, or some international body’s, and you are half way to getting buy in.’

7 The longer an assessment’s track record of publication, the more influential it becomes vis-à-vis others.

Green comments: ‘International organizations tend to have much more staying power than INGOs, producing annual reports on this or that, which slowly accumulate brand awareness and impact. By hopping from issue to issue, INGOs may keep the media interested, but they sacrifice impact.’

8 Neither incentives nor penalties seem to easily explain assessment influence.

9 Prescriptive assessments appear to be slightly more influential than descriptive assessments, and decision-makers in the developing world seem to want more, not less, specific policy guidance.

Green comments: ‘OK, that’s definitely a challenge to all the complexity wallahs and Doing Development Differently crowd who say that outsiders should focus on highlighting problems, not suggesting solutions (which need to be designed by local actors).’

10 Assessments were influential because they promoted reforms that aligned with the priorities of national leadership.

Green comments: ‘A “working with the grain” argument that it’s best to try and influence ongoing processes rather than start new ones.’

11 Senior government leaders and their deputies engage with external assessments in different ways. One potential interpretation of this finding is that leaders, mindful of their domestic audiences, project strength in the face of external pressure, while their deputies work behind the scenes to secure material rewards from donor agencies and international organizations.

Green then highlights some important findings on the limits of external influence

12 The picture that emerges is not one of governments being cajoled or coerced into pursuing reforms that align with donor priorities, but rather that governments pick and choose assessments based on whether they advance domestic priorities.

13 External sources of analysis and advice rarely help to neutralize opposition to reform or build coalitions in support of policy change.

And he highlights the study’s findings on the range of country types

14 Some of the most successful reformers ‘go-it-alone’ and shield the domestic policy formulation and execution from external pressure (e.g., Rwanda and Ethiopia), while others rely more heavily on external sources of analysis and advice (e.g., Liberia and Georgia).

Finally, Green highlights what he sees as three main weaknesses of the report

‘It’s just a survey – so no in depth interviews, focus groups etc to dig deeper, which I am sure would have produced further insight.

‘Massive blind spot on critical junctures – policy makers everywhere ignore advice until they need it, which is often after a scandal, crisis or obvious failure in previous policy. Building detailed timelines with decision makers would have revealed much more about how they take up policy advice and analysis at such moments.

‘Also nothing on the role of people and institutions outside government in persuading the state to adopt particular pieces of analysis – coalitions, insider-outsider alliances etc. This is a world where civil servants and pols read or don’t read/listen to reports – in real life, things are a bit more complicated than that.

Ending with the good news

‘The good news is that the AidData lab that conducted the survey plans to repeat it (and so accumulate influence, presumably). Now can someone apply this approach to the SDGs, please?’

Read the new report in full: The Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change Who do developing world leaders listen to and why?, April 2015 Executive Summary, AidData, http://www.aiddata.org

Note: AidData is a research and innovation lab that seeks to improve development outcomes by making development finance data more accessible and actionable.

Read Duncan’s Green’s article on his From Poverty to Power blog: Which bits of advice do developing country decision makers actually listen to? Great new research, 12 May 2015


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