Looking into the future of livestock production

NewIn: Mariana Rufino
NewIn: Mariana Rufino

NewIn: Mariana Rufino

Mariana Rufino has already researched agricultural topics in various regions of the world. She now holds the Chair of Livestock Systems at TUM, where she focuses on alternative future perspectives for livestock farming systems. Her international experience helps her to take a comprehensive view of the complex issues in this field and to find creative solutions.

After her studies in Argentina and a doctorate in the Netherlands, Mariana Rufino went to Kenya for a research project "There I saw that one can change a lot for the better with improvements in agricultural science. Since then, I knew that I wanted to stay in research," she says. Her international experience has convinced her that diverse teams contribute original approaches that are needed to solve complex problems. That is why her team at TUM is diverse. "This enriches our discussions and offers solutions to the constantly evolving research challenges," says Rufino.

Rethinking livestock systems

At TUM, Mariana Rufino looks at livestock systems. She compares the systems in Africa, Europe and Latin America to find out more about their strengths and weaknesses. She is also investigating regions that have been little researched to date, and where there are large knowledge gaps such as East Africa. The emphasis is on ruminants, especially cattle, sheep and goats. Environmental aspects of livestock farming are an important focus of her research. These include, for example, deforestation, changes in nutrient cycles including greenhouse gases and changes on surface waters.

"The livestock sector is often the focus of attention - and not in a positive sense" says the researcher. "We need to reassess the value we place on animal products and promote diversity in both in production and consumption," she says. In her opinion, balanced and reliable impact assessments could help steer the discussions in a constructive direction. Her aim is to gather scientific evidence to support decisions in politics and in practice.

Using digital tools to look to the future

Mariana Rufino is currently working on identifying ways to harness the extensive digital data, for example from environmental sensors and state-of-the-art computer-assisted technologies. "The rapid development of this field gives us the opportunity to test hypotheses faster than we ever could with traditional experimental methods," says Rufino. She is thinking, for example, of sensors that can detect where livestock graze, what they eat and how their activities affect the environment. This research can help us make predictions about how animals act in different environments and how they influence the environment. This has both economic and environmental implications and helps answer important questions about the future of the land.