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Dairy cattle under grazing systems: An estimate of the carbon footprint in the northern Andes of Ecuador
* 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 4, 5 , 2 , 6, 7
1  School of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador Sede Ibarra (PUCESI), 100112, Imbabura, Ecuador
2  AgSystems, Ceigram, itdUPM, Centro de Innovación en Tecnología para el Desarrollo, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), 28040, España
3  Universidad Estatal Amazónica (UEA), Pastaza 160101, Ecuador.
4  Grupo de Investigación en Economía Regional (GIER), Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas, Universidad de Cuenca, Cuenca 010107, Ecuador
5  Faculty of Engineering, Group of Animal Production and Industrialization (PROANIN), National University of Chimborazo, Riobamba 060103, Ecuador
6  Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE, Sangolquí, Ecuador.
7  Universidad de Especialidades Turísticas, Quito, Ecuador. (registering DOI)

Border production systems are a threat to biodiversity hotspots. This is due to the dilemma of conservation or economic maximization, while the amount of carbon footprint (CF) generated by the management of border grazing and livestock is an uncertainty. The objectives of this study were to determine the socio-demographic characteristics of households, to describe animal and pasture management on farms and to estimate the CF generated by dairy cattle. The study was performed between two protected areas, being the El Ángel and La Bonita reserves, which are located in the Eastern Andean Cordillera. While the sampling was carried out by conglomerate, the corresponding survey was conducted on the head of the households concerned. A total of 333 farmers from 86 rural households were surveyed. We identified an average of seven individuals per household with no education, while the average pasture area was about 45.3 ha. There was no association of forage species and the modernization of animal management is precarious. In the CF, the Cool Farm Tool programme was used. The CF generated indicated that 79% is enteric fermentation of cattle, followed by management of pasture residues. The results of this study encourage measures focusing on diet management, spread of livestock manure and reuse of grass as compost to reduce the CF of livestock systems.

Keywords: carbon footprint; greenhouse effect gases; grazing management, livelihoods