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Villar A.,Research Center y Formacion Agrarias | Lopez-Alonso M.,University of Santiago de Compostela
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research

This paper presents first data on the udder health status of organic dairy farms in Northern Spain and analyses some management and productive characteristics related to milk production comparing with the conventional sector. Five certified organic farms from the Cantabrian Region were monitored monthly from February 2006 to January 2008 and individual samples of all lactating cows were taken from parturition to the end of lactation. Although organic farms in our study showed a great individual variability, overall these were small (<50 lactating cows) traditional farms, with a high degree of pasture (66-82% dry matter intake) and a milk production (average milk yield: 5950 L) 23% lower compared with the reference conventional sector (<50 cow farms). The organic farms had higher (p<0.05) average number of calves per cow (3.93) and a lower number of first-lactation cows (16.9%) than the comparable conventional farms (2.47 calves per cow and 33.1% first-lactation cows). Organic farms showed higher (p<0.05) somatic cell counts (SCC) than the reference conventional farms (mean log10±SD for all cows: 5.25±0.49 and 5.06±0.59, respectively). Detailed analysis of the SCC depending on the number of lactation and % of monthly SCC tests with linear scores indicative of udder infection suggest that while the heifers’ sanitary condition at the beginning of their productive cycle was similar in both types of farms, this seems to become worse along the productive cycle in the organics. This could be related to a low use of antibiotics for prophylaxis and treatment of udder infections and merits further investigation. © 2015 INIA. Source

Orjales I.,University of Santiago de Compostela | Lopez-Alonso M.,University of Santiago de Compostela | Rodriguez-Bermudez R.,University of Santiago de Compostela | Rey-Crespo F.,University of Santiago de Compostela | And 3 more authors.

Organic farming principles promote the use of unconventional therapies as an alternative to chemical substances (which are limited by organic regulations), with homeopathy being the most extensive. Traditionally, Spain has had little faith in homeopathy but its use in organic farming is growing. Fifty-six Spanish organic dairy farmers were interviewed to obtain what we believe to be the first data on the use of homeopathy in organic dairy cattle in Spain. Only 32% of farms use some sort of alternative therapy (16.1% homeopathy, 10.7% phytotherapy and 5.3% using both therapies) and interestingly, a clear geographical pattern showing a higher use towards the East (similar to that in the human population) was observed. The main motivation to use homeopathy was the need to reduce chemical substances promoted by organic regulations, and the treatment of clinical mastitis being the principle reason. The number of total treatments was lower in farms using homeopathy compared with those applying allopathic therapies (0.13 and 0.54 treatments/cow/year respectively) and although the bulk SCC was significantly higher (p < 0.001) in these farms (161,826 and 111,218 cel/ml, respectively) it did not have any negative economical penalty for the farmer and milk quality was not affected complying with the required standards; on the contrary homeopathic therapies seems to be an alternative for reducing antibiotic treatments, allowing farmers to meet the organic farming principles. © 2015 The Faculty of Homeopathy. Source

Doltra J.,University of Aarhus | Doltra J.,Research Center y Formacion Agrarias | Olesen J.E.,University of Aarhus
Journal of Agricultural Science

The effects of projected changes in climate and atmospheric CO2 concentration on productivity and nitrogen (N) leaching of characteristic arable and pig farming rotations in Denmark were investigated with the FASSET simulation model. The LARS weather generator was used to provide climatic data for the baseline period (1961-90) and in combination with two regional circulation models (RCM) to generate climatic data under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A1B emission scenario for four different 20-year time slices (denoted by midpoints 2020, 2040, 2060 and 2080) for two locations in Denmark, differing in soil and climate, and representative of the selected production systems. The CO2 effects were modelled using projected CO2 concentrations for the A1B emission scenario. Crop rotations were irrigated (sandy soil) and unirrigated (sandy loam soil), and all included systems with and without catch crops, with field operation dates adapted to baseline and future climate change. Model projections showed an increase in the productivity and N leaching in the future that would be dependent on crop rotation and crop management, highlighting the importance of considering the whole rotation rather than single crops for impact assessments. Potato and sugar beet in arable farming and grain maize in pig farming contributed most to the productivity increase in the future scenarios. The highest productivity was obtained in the arable system on the sandy loam soil, with an increase of 20% on average in 2080 with respect to the baseline. Irrigation and fertilization rates would need to be increased in the future to achieve optimum yields. Growing catch crops reduces N leaching, but current catch crop management might not be sufficient to control the potential increase of leaching and more efficient strategies are required in the future. The uncertainty of climate change scenarios was assessed by using two different climate projections for predicting crop productivity and N leaching in Danish crop rotations, and this showed the consistency of the projected trends when used with the same crop model. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012. Source

Garcia-Arias A.-I.,University of Santiago de Compostela | Vazquez-Gonzalez I.,University of Santiago de Compostela | Vazquez-Gonzalez I.,Campus Universitario | Vazquez-Gonzalez I.,Research Center y Formacion Agrarias | And 4 more authors.
Land Use Policy

The present paper identifies strategies that farmers have undertaken in northwestern Spain, an area characterized by late structural adjustment. For this study, a survey of over 559 farms has been conducted in four areas representative of different specializations and rural situations, from marginal to productive intensification. Farms have been categorized according to social and productive characteristics through a multivariable analysis. Four basic behaviors have been identified and connected with farm types and rural areas using a multiple correspondence analysis. These basic strategies were defined depending on whether investments have been made on farms to increase or intensify production and whether new on- or off-farm diversification activities have been introduced. This analysis allows us to assess transitional pathways for the future and to assume some consequences of farm behavior in connection with structural adjustments. Thus far, empirical evidence shows that the nature and main drivers of the diversification process are different from those in northern European areas. At the same time, a significant level of farm abandonment is registered. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Busque J.,Research Center y Formacion Agrarias
Journal of Chemical Ecology

Carex brevicollis (Cyperaceae) is a plant of mesic grasslands in calcareous mountains of southern Europe. It contains two different β-carboline alkaloids, brevicolline and brevicarine, the first of which is thought to produce abortions in mammals. In the rangeland of Aliva, within the Picos de Europa massif in northern Spain, the abundance of Carex brevicollis has been linked with the occurrence of teratogenesis in early gestating cows grazing in early summer. The concentration of alkaloids was measured in the summers of 2007 and 2008, at intervals of 2 weeks, at different altitudes within the rangeland (1,350, 1,600, and 1,850 m) and from different parts of the sedge (leaves, reproductive stems, and inflorescences). Estimated growing degree days were related to the flowering phenology of Carex brevicollis and were used to analyse its relation with the concentration of alkaloids. Brevicarine concentration was higher in inflorescences and brevicolline in leaves. Although it also depended on the zone and year, the concentrations of both alkaloids were related one to another in leaves and inflorescences but not in stems. Both alkaloids decreased with growing degree days in the inflorescences and showed no response in leaves. Our findings suggest that brevicarine, not brevicolline, could be the teratogen in pregnant cattle in this region. This hypothesis is supported by the observed frequent consumption of inflorescences and scarce consumption of leaves of Carex brevicollis by grazing livestock, and also by the coincidence of the toxicity in early pregnant cows with the flowering time of the sedge. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Source

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