mountain farming

Animal traction: New opportunities and new challenges.


Arlindo Almeida, J. B. Rodrigues. 23 November 2017. Animal traction: New opportunities and new challenges.. Presented at 9th International Scientific Symposium 'Farm Machinery and Processes Management in Sustainable Agriculture'. (22 November - 24 November 2017). Lublin, Poland. 27-31.

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Date presented: 
Thursday 23 November 2017

In the last one hundred years, tractors with much more power replaced animals all over the world, except in developing countries. Besides the advantage in power, the use of tractors increases agriculture productivity and time efficiency of field operations. Despite the unquestionable advantage of tractors for agriculture performance, in recent years the interest by animal traction is growing, even in developed countries. It is important to understand why. This interest usually is linked to small scale farming, but not only. Environmental concern is one of the most significant reasons, in different aspects: use of working animals as a renewable source of energy; forest management in protected areas to protect soil physical properties related to compaction affected by tillage treatments; field operations in environment protected areas, among others. In old vineyards, but producing a high value output, plant spacing turn animal traction without alternative. The maintenance of the gene pool in domestic animals; the creation of jobs in rural areas, such as farrier, harness maker and implement manufacturer, are also important issues.
New challenges: new implements must be designed and new mechanical solutions achieved.

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Publication date: 
24 November 2017

The XXI century mountains: sustainable management of mountainous areas based on animal traction


J. B. Rodrigues, P. Schlechter, H. Spychiger, R. Spinelli, N. Oliveira, Tomas de Figueiredo. June 2017. The XXI century mountains: sustainable management of mountainous areas based on animal traction. Open Agriculture. 2:1. 300-307.

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Publication date: 
30 June 2017
Open Agriculture
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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are around 300 million working animals worldwide. They play a fundamental role in human livelihoods through their contribution to financial, human and social capital, supporting between 300 and 600 million people globally, particularly in poorer areas, where animal energy represents a huge and extremely important sustainable power resource. Yet their recognition remains largely neglected, with animal traction being largely ignored by decision and policy makers and even by civil society at all levels, which compromises a real development and improvement of this technology as well as animal welfare. On the other hand, a collective ecological and economical consciousness and an increasing awareness of public opinion about the need to reduce the excessive industrialization and mechanization of agriculture and forestry has led some sectors of society to consider the (re)use of animal traction as a valid modern source of energy. Indeed, working animals optimally transform the consumed biomass in energy and natural fertilizer, which avoids soil degradation and contributes to a sustainable management of arable lands, forests and sensitive areas. The need to maintain biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, encourage self-reliance and reduce consumption of resources also contributes to this trend.

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