Greenhouse gas emission profiles of European livestock sectors

J.P. Lesschen, M. van den Berg, H.J. Westhoek, H.P. Witzke, O. Oenema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

202 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There are increasing concerns about the ecological footprint of global animal production. Expanding livestock sectors worldwide contribute to expansion of agricultural land and associated deforestation, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), eutrophication of surface waters and nutrient imbalances. Farm based studies indicate that there are large differences among farms in animal productivity and environmental performance. Here, we report on regional variations in dairy, beef, pork, poultry and egg production, and related GHG emissions in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU-27), based on 2003–2005 data. Analyses were made with the MITERRA-Europe model which calculates annual nutrient flows and GHG emissions from agriculture in the EU-27. Main input data were derived from CAPRI (i.e., crop areas, livestock distribution, feed inputs), GAINS (i.e., animal numbers, excretion factors, NH3 emission factors), FAO statistics (i.e., crop yields, fertilizer consumption, animal production) and IPCC (i.e., CH4, N2O, CO2 emission factors). Sources of GHG emissions included were enteric fermentation, manure management, direct and indirect N2O soil emissions, cultivation of organic soils, liming, fossil fuel use and fertilizer production. The dairy sector had the highest GHG emission in the EU-27, with annual emission of 195 Tg CO2-eq, followed by the beef sector with 192 Tg CO2-eq. Enteric fermentation was the main source of GHG emissions in the European livestock sector (36%) followed by N2O soil emissions (28%). On a per kg product basis, beef had by far the highest GHG emission with 22.6 kg CO2-eq/kg, milk had an emission of 1.3 kg CO2-eq/kg, pork 3.5 kg CO2-eq/kg, poultry 1.6 kg CO2-eq/kg, and eggs 1.7 kg CO2-eq/kg. However large variations in GHG emissions per unit product exist among EU countries, which are due to differences in animal production systems, feed types and nutrient use efficiencies. There are, however, substantial uncertainties in the base data and applied methodology such as assumptions surrounding allocation of feeds to livestock species. Our results provide insight into differences in GHG sources and emissions among animal production sectors for the various regions of Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-28
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
Volume166-167
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • milk-production
  • dairy farms
  • management
  • nitrogen
  • deforestation
  • agriculture
  • strategies
  • losses
  • energy
  • meat

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