Livestock management, as a means of determining the extent and value of nutrient flows in agricultural landscapes, is already well understood and exploited by small-scale farmers in Asia. This paper highlights the biological interfaces in smallholder agricultural systems where animals exert the greatest influence upon nutrient cycles, and suggests that these should form the focus of scientific effort to elucidate the key elements of the biological processes at work. Two case studies of intensive mixed farming systems are presented from the uplands of Java, Indonesia and the Mid-Hills of Nepal. These examples show how management practices have developed over centuries to enhance the contribution that livestock make to motivating and moderating nutrient flows on very small and continuously cultivated land holdings. The paper concludes by emphasising that there is an urgent need to understand the biological mechanisms that enable livestock to contribute to the sustainability of intensive smallholder agriculture.
Thorne, P.J.; Tanner, J.C. Livestock and nutrient cycling in crop-animal systems in Asia. Agricultural Systems (2002) 71 (1-2) 111-126. [DOI: 10.1016/S0308-521X(01)00039-7]