Connections between Biodiversity and Livestock Well-being Webinar by eOrganic

This webinar by Juan Alvez of the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture was recorded on January 14, 2016.

About the Webinar

Among organic and sustainable farmers, there is a belief that healthy ecosystems with minimally disturbed soils, adequate access to diverse, high quality forages, and clean water have a robust correlation with cows’ well-being and milk quality.  However, there has been limited research on the relationships between changes in biodiversity, livestock health, and farm management and productivity. Therefore, in 2012, a University of Vermont research team began a multidisciplinary, long-term study to learn if managing farms for increased diversity at different “community” levels (from rumen microbes to forage composition) in Northeast pasture-based dairy production systems positively contributes to improved livestock well-being, health and productivity, and creates an ecological service feedback loop that benefits soil and natural resource diversity.

As part of the project, Dr. Juan Alvez has been conducting an on-farm study looking at tools to monitor grazing behavior, forage intakes, and rumen activity in real time. By evaluating these instruments by measuring outcomes related to soil biological composition, cattle health, and milk composition, the study seeks to determine whether these tools can help farmers better manage pasture resources. In this webinar, Juan will describe the overall project and its goals as well as research results to date.

About the Presenter

Dr. Juan Alvez is the Pasture Program Technical Coordinator at the University of Vermont (UVM) Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Juan grew up on a livestock farm in northern Uruguay and came to the U.S. to pursue his academic career. He received his Master of Science degree from the UVM Department of Plant and Soil Science and his PhD from the UVM School of Environment and Natural Resources where his dissertation focused on the relationships between sustainable farming and ecosystem functions and services, particularly with regard to grazing systems.

Published December 17, 2015

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.