Skip to main content Accessibility help

Economic evaluation of the environmental impact of a dairy cattle intensive production cluster under arid lands conditions

  • C. Navarrete-Molina (a1) (a2), C. A. Meza-Herrera (a1), J. J. Ramirez-Flores (a1), M. A. Herrera-Machuca (a2), N. Lopez-Villalobos (a3) (a4), M. A. Lopez-Santiago (a1) and F. G. Veliz-Deras (a5)...


At a global level, dairy cow production systems (DCPS) are important sources of nourishment and profits, but they generate environmental impacts such as overexploitation of different resources including water, lands and fossil energy. Quantification of water and carbon footprint to define mitigation strategies and a more rational use of natural resources, is a reiterated claim. The aim of this study was to perform an economic evaluation of the environmental impact of the DCPS from the Comarca Lagunera, Mexico (24°N, 102°W, 220 mm, hot-semiarid climate) We contrasted the economic value (EV) generated by the DCPS with respect to the economic costs (EC) due to the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and the water footprint (WFP) of this DCPS. While quantifications of GHGE considered those proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the WFP involved the use of blue, gray and green water by the DCPS and related activities. Quantification of the EC of WFP considered an international average price of water. In the year 2017, the Comarca Lagunera registered a dairy cow inventory of 493 144 heads, with 227 142 lactating cows, which produced 2386 million liters of milk per year with an annual average EV of €525.3 million. The EC (€, millions) generated by the GHGE and WFP were €311.8 and €11 980.7, respectively, with a total EC of € 12 292.5 million. When the EV of milk production and the total environmental EC are compared, the contrast demonstrates not only the noteworthy environmental impact but also the significant and senseless biological and EC. In addition, having a large dairy cow concentration creates pollution concerns and the DCPS transfers both nutrients and water resources from an ecologically vulnerable arid region. Therefore, some mitigation strategies such as, better cow genotype, feed and manure management combined with the production of forages and grains in a different geographical region are suggested to promote an optimum use of water in order to uphold the social, economic and biologic sustainability of the Comarca Lagunera, Mexico.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Acevedo-Peralta, AI, Leos-Rodríguez, JA, Figueroa-Viramontes, U and Romo-Lozano, JL 2017. Environmental policy: use and manure management in Comarca Lagunera. Acta Universitaria 27, 312.
Averyt, K, Meldrum, J, Caldwell, P, Sun, G, McNulty, S, Huber-Lee, A and Madden, N 2013. Sectoral contributions to surface water stress in the coterminous United States. Environmental Research Letters 8, 035046, 9pp.
Capper, JL, Cady, RA and Bauman, DE 2009. The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared with 2007. Journal of Animal Science 87, 21602167.
Cardoso, LA 2012. Environmental and economic impacts of livestock productivity increase in sub-Saharan Africa. Tropical Animal Health and Production 44, 18791884.
Chapagain, AK and Hoekstra, AY 2004. Water footprints of nations. Value of Water Research Report Series No. 16. UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands. Retrieved on 15 August 2017, from
Daniels, J 2018. Giant indoor vertical farm backed by Chinese firm launching just east of Las Vegas Strip, CNBC. Retrieved on 18 July 2018 from
De Fraiture, C, Wichelns, D, Rockstrom, J and Kemp-Benedict, E 2007. Looking ahead to 2050: scenarios of alternative investment approaches. In Water for food, water for life: a comprehensive assessment of water management in agriculture (ed. D Molden), pp. 91145. International Water Management Institute, London, UK and Sterling, VA, USA.
De Groot, RS, Wilson, MA and Boumans, RMJ 2002. A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services. Ecological Economics 41, 393408.
Environmental Finance 2011. Carbon price. Retrieved on 10 November 2012 from
Figueroa-Viramontes, U, Delgado, JA, Cueto-Wong, JA, Núñez-Hernández, G, Reta-Sánchez, DG and Barbarick, KA 2011. A new Nitrogen Index to evaluate nitrogen losses in intensive forage systems in Mexico. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 142, 352364.
Gerber, PJ, Steinfeld, H, Henderson, B, Mottet, A, Opio, C, Dijkman, J, Falcucci, A and Tempio, G 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock – a global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy.
Gill, M, Smith, P and Wilkinson, JM 2010. Mitigating climate change: the role of domestic livestock. Animal 4, 323333.
Herva, M, Franco, A, Carrasco, EF and Roca, E 2011. Review of corporate environmental indicators. Journal of Cleaner Production 19, 16871699.
Herrero, M, Thornton, PK, Gerber, O and Reid, RS 2009. Livestock, livelihoods and the environment: understanding the trade-offs. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 1, 111120.
Hoekstra, AY and Mekonnen, MM 2012. The water footprint of humanity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109, 3232–3237.
Hongmin, D, Mangino, J, Mcallister, TA, Hatfield, JL, Johnson, DE, Lassey, KR, Aparecida de Lima, M and Romanosvskaya, A 2006. Emissions from livestock and manure management. In 2006-IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories (Volume 4 (ed. HS Eggleston, L Buendia, K Miwa, T Ngara and K Tanabe), pp. 10.110.87. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Hayama, Japan.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007. Agriculture. In: Climate change 2007: contribution of working group III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (ed. B Metz, OR Davidson, PR Bosch, R Dave and LA Meyer), pp. 497-540. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA.
Jungbluth, T, Hartung, E and Brose, G 2001. Greenhouse gas emissions from animal houses and manure stores. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 60, 133145.
Kjellsson, J and Liu, S 2012. Transboundary waters. Retrieved on 27 March 2012 from
Kumar, P, Thiaw, I, Yashiro, M and Molinero, C 2011. Food and ecological security: identifying synergy and trade-offs. UNEP Policy Series: Ecosystem Management 4, 112.
Mekonnen, MM and Hoekstra, AY 2010. The green, blue and grey water footprint of farm animals and animal products volume 1: Main Report. Appendices. Value of Water. Research Report Series No. 48. Retrieved on 15 May 2018 from
Mekonnen, MM and Hoekstra, AY 2012. A global assessment of the water footprint of farm animal products. Ecosystems 15, 401415.
Meza-Herrera, CA, Ramirez-Flores, JJ, Lopez-Villalobos, N, Garcia-Martinez, A, Veliz, FG and Lopez-Santiago, MA 2015. Unveiling the economic costs of the environmental impact and the water footprint of the Holstein intensive production system in the arid lands of northern Mexico. In CoBo-Congress-Controversies & Consensus in Bovine Health, Industry & Economics, 27–30 August 2015, Berlin, Germany, PL01, p. 68.
Meza-Herrera, CA, Ramirez-Flores, JJ, Lopez-Villalobos, N, Silanikove, N, Garcia-Martinez, A and Veliz, FG 2016. Economic costs of greenhouse gas emissions and water footprint of the intensive milk production system in the arid lands of northern Mexico. In Steps to Sustainable Livestock – International Conference. CABOT Institute, University of Bristol, 12–15 January 2016, Bristol, UK, p. 109.
Moate, PJ, Deighton, MH, Williams, SRO, Pryce, JE, Hayes, BJ, Jacobs, JL, Eckard, RJ, Hannah, MC and Wales, WJ 2016. Reducing the carbon footprint of Australian milk production by mitigation of enteric methane emissions. Animal Production Science 56, 10171034.
Montemayor-Trejo, JA, Lara-Míreles, JL, Woo-Reza, JL, Munguía-López, J, Rivera-González, M and Trucios-Caciano, R 2012. Producción de maíz forrajero (Zea mays L.) en tres sistemas de irrigación en la Comarca Lagunera de Coahuila y Durango, México. Agrociencia 46, 267278.
Mosier, A, Kroeze, C, Nevison, C, Oenema, O, Seitzinger, S and Van Cleemput, O 1998. Closing the global N2O budget: nitrous oxide emissions through the agricultural nitrogen cycle. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 52, 225248.
Oenema, O, Oudendag, D and Velthof, GL 2007. Nutrient losses from manure management in the European Union. Livestock Science 112, 261272.
Patel, M, Wredle, E, Börjesson, G, Danielsson, R, Iwaasa, AD, Spörndly, E and Bertilsson, J 2011. Enteric methane emissions from dairy cows fed different proportions of highly digestible grass silage. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A-Animal Science 61, 128136.
Pfister, S, Koehler, A and Hellweg, S 2009. Assessing the environmental impacts of freshwater consumption in LCA. Environmental Science & Technology 43, 40984104.
Ridoutt, BG and Pfister, S 2010. A revised approach to water footprinting to make transparent the impacts of consumption and production on global freshwater scarcity. Global Environmental Change 20, 113120.
Rios-Flores, JL, Torres-Moreno, M, Castro-Franco, R, Torres-Moreno, MA and Ruiz-Torres, J 2015. Determinación de la huella hídrica azul en los cultivos forrajeros del DR-017, Comarca Lagunera. México. Revista de la Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias. Universidad Nacional de Cuyo 47, 93107.
Rosegrant, MW, Fernandez, M, Sinha, A, Alder, J, Ahammad, H, de Fraiture, C, Eickhour, B, Fonseca, J, Huang, J, Koyama, O, Omezzine, AM, Pingali, P, Ramirez, R, Ringler, C, Robinson, S, Thornton, P, van Vuuren, D and Yana-Shapiro, H 2009. Looking into the future for agriculture and AKST. In International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD): agriculture at a crossroads, global report (ed. BD McIntyre, HR Herren, J Wakhungu and RT Watson), pp. 307376. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA.
Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment 686 (SCOPE) 2010. Livestock and the Global Carbon Cycle. In: Livestock in a changing landscape: drivers, consequences, and responses, volume 1 (ed. H Steinfeld, HA Mooney, F Schneider and LE Neville) pp. 69-82. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA.
Servicio de Información Agroalimentaria y Pesquera – Agrifood and Fishery Information System (SIAP) 2017. Livestock yearling production book. Retrieved on 15 October 2017 from
Smith, P, Bustamante, M, Ahammad, H, Clark, H, Dong, H, Elsiddig, EA, Haberl, H, Harper, R, House, J, Jafari, M, Masera, O, Mbow, C, Ravindranath, NH, Rice, CW, Robledo-Abad, C, Romanovskaya, A, Sperling, F and Tubiello, F 2014. Agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU). In Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ed. O Edenhofer, R Pichs-Madruga, Y Sokona, E Farahani, S Kadner, K Seyboth, A Adler, I Baum, S Brunner, P Eickemeier, B Kriemann, J Savolainen, S Schlömer, C von Stechow, T Zwickel and JC Minx), pp. 811922. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA.
Steinfeld, H, Gerber, P, Wassenar, T, Castel, V, Rosales, M and De Haan, C 2006. Livestock's long shadow environmental issues and options. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy.
Thompson Reuters 2011. Point carbon. Retrieved on 10 November 2011 from
Thornton, PK 2010. Livestock production: recent trends, future prospects. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 365, 28532867.
Tiu, BTC and Cruz, DE 2017. An MILP model for optimizing water exchanges in eco-industrial parks considering water quality. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 119, 8996.


Economic evaluation of the environmental impact of a dairy cattle intensive production cluster under arid lands conditions

  • C. Navarrete-Molina (a1) (a2), C. A. Meza-Herrera (a1), J. J. Ramirez-Flores (a1), M. A. Herrera-Machuca (a2), N. Lopez-Villalobos (a3) (a4), M. A. Lopez-Santiago (a1) and F. G. Veliz-Deras (a5)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.