By using the natural mechanism of conditioned taste aversion, researchers redirected the food preferences of ruminants, making them more willing to eliminate undesirable plants from these types of pastures, and thereby reducing the use of pesticides and farming equipment.
The cultivation of woody plants (olive trees, grapevines, fruit trees, etc.) take up 27% of the cultivated land in Spain (MARM, 2010). This cultivation system permits plants to grow around the trees or vines, but in order to prevent these plants from becoming a problem for the cultivations, they must be controlled with herbicides and/or farming equipment.In the long term, these practices can cause environmental problems due to the residues they leave behind or to the compactation of soil produced by farming equipment. A more environmentally sustainable and respectful system would be to control these undesired plants with the grazing of sheep and goats. This system would reduce the use of herbicides and fertilisers, given that the droppings of these animals provide many nutrients for the soil and thus could be used as an agricultural resource, as well as favour a better integration between the agricultural and farming sectors.
Maria Jesus Delgado | EurekAlert!
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