Enhancing the environmental and economic sustainability of pig farming: the case of Brazil

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Brazil is the fourth largest producer and exporter of pork in the world. Pig farming is raising environmental and economic concerns, mainly associated with the production and use of feed. It causes major environmental impacts due to its strong dependence on scarce resources (e.g. arable land, fossil fuel), and release of pollutants to the air, water and soil (e.g. greenhouse gases, nitrogen). Pig farming relies heavily on high quality food crops (i.e. cereals and oilseeds). In recent years, the growing competition for these high quality food crops with other sectors such as the energy and food sectors has resulted in rising feed costs. The problem of rising feed cost is worsened by price volatility of cereals and oilseeds. The use of alternative feed sources and the genetic improvement of pigs through selective breeding are expected to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of pig farming. The aim of this thesis was to assess the impacts of using co-products in the diets of pigs and of genetic improvement of pigs through selective breeding on both the environmental and economic sustainability of pig farming in Brazil. The results show that the use of co-products in the diets of pigs in Brazil raises feed costs, global warming potential, energy use, and excretions of nitrogen and phosphorus. However, it reduces land use. The use of co-products that can be produced on marginal land (e.g. macaúba cake) improves the efficiency of pork production when marginal land is not used to grow food crops. Breeders can use economic values that are derived by accounting for risk and risk preferences of farmers in order to produce breeding materials that increase the utility of risk averse farmers. Similarly, the mitigation of environmental impacts can be incorporated in breeding goals via using economic values that are derived by accounting for environmental costs. Genetic improvement of traits that raise farm productivity has the potential to reduce environmental impacts of farming while also raising the utility of risk averse farmers. The study also measured the effect of genetic expenses on dynamic productivity growth and its components using data from Dutch specialized dairy farms over 2007-2013. The results show that spending greater than the median expenses on genetics has the potential to increase productivity growth associated with inputs and investments in the first two years after the expenses.  

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Oude Lansink, Alfons, Promotor
  • de Mey, Yann, Co-promotor
  • Bastiaansen, John, Co-promotor
Award date21 Dec 2018
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789463435284
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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