Identifying management strategies to improve sustainability and household income for herders on the desert steppe in Inner Mongolia, China

Zhiguo Li, Guodong Han, Mengli Zhao, Jing Wang, Zhongwu Wang, David Kemp, David Michalk, Andreas Wilkes, Karl Behrendt, Hong Wang, Colin Langford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Grasslands play important roles on all continents in ecosystem service and livestock production systems. With increasing human and livestock population, significant challenges are faced in providing safe and high quality animal and herbage products from grasslands in China. The family ranch is the basic management unit and production system in Inner Mongolia, north China. Animal populations are increasing, but the income of herders and grassland condition are not improving. There is a need for new management strategies to guide the future development of animal husbandry. Based on the results of demonstration experiments and surveys in Siziwang Banner, the StageONE Model developed for Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project ". Sustainable Livestock Grazing Systems on Chinese Temperate Grasslands" was used to simulate changes in management strategies in a typical whole farm system, in order to identify feasible, sustainable and profitable farm management strategies. A new management strategy, including lower stocking rates and increased use of feed supplement in winter and spring, was adopted in a small number of farms and compared with the typical farm using the StageONE model. The results show that the total actual energy intake of sheep in the new strategy is higher than under traditional management, and the net energy surplus is -0.36-MJ/sheep unit/d, which is lower than under traditional management. The new strategy, in which stocking rates are reduced by 14.1%, also reduced methane emissions by 34.14% and increased net income by 15.85%. The simulation results suggest new ways for herders, companies and government to improve grassland management while increasing herders' net incomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-72
Number of pages11
JournalAgricultural Systems
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


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