Environmental sustainability assessment of pig farms in selected european countries: Combining lca and key performance indicators for biodiversity assessment

Antonia Katharina Ruckli*, Sabine Dippel, Nora Durec, Monika Gebska, Jonathan Guy, Juliane Helmerichs, Christine Leeb, Herman Vermeer, Stefan Hörtenhuber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to combine Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) assessment focusing on biodiversity in order to examine the environmental impacts of different pig farm types (13 breeding, 23 finishing and 27 breeding-to-finishing farms) in seven European countries. In addition, the relationship between environmental impacts and selected farm management characteristics was explored. Fossil energy depletion (FED), global warming (GWP), acidification (AP) as well as marine (MEP) and fresh water (FEP) eutrophication potential were assessed by an attributional LCA and expressed per kilogram body mass net sold (BMNS). In addition, the potential biodiversity performance of all crop-livestock farms within the sample (n = 56) was evaluated with a KPI assessment of biodiversity-related field management characteristics. We found no relationship between LCA results and biodiversity scores (KPI). LCA and biodiversity performance varied more within than across farm types (breeding, finishing, breeding-to-finishing). For example, the GWP expressed per kg BMNS of the breeding unit of breeding-to-finishing farms was on average (median) 2.77 (range: 1.40–4.78) and of breeding farms 2.57 (range: 1.91–3.23) kg CO2-eq. The average (median) biodiversity theme score for breeding farms was 51% (range: 36–70%), for breeding-to-finishing farms 38% (range: 30–68%) and for finishing farms 43% (range: 28–67%). Several farm management characteristics (e.g., FCR, productivity, proportion of solid manure) correlated with all/some LCA results. Biodiversity performance depended especially on KPIs related to ecological focus areas, fertiliser management and GMO crops. The large range regarding environmental performance in both LCA and KPI assessment across farm types indicates that farm-specific improvement measures should be implemented to enhance overall environmental sustainability on farm. In conclusion, combining LCA with KPI assessment provides a more comprehensive environmental impact assessment of pig farms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11230
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2021


  • Acidification potential
  • Biodiversity
  • Eutrophication potential
  • Fossil energy demand
  • Global warming potential
  • Key performance indicators
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Pig production


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