Nitrogen emissions along global livestock supply chains

Aimable Uwizeye*, I.J.M. de Boer, Carolyn Opio, R.P.O. Schulte, Alessandra Falcucci, Giuseppe Tempio, Félix Teillard, F.A.M. Casu, Monica Rulli, James N. Galloway, Adrian Leip, J.W. Erisman, Timothy P. Robinson, Henning Steinfeld, P.J. Gerrber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)


Global livestock supply chains have significantly altered nitrogen (N) flows over past years, thereby threatening environmental and human health. Here, we provide a disaggregated assessment of the livestock sector’s impacts on global N flows and emissions, including international trade. The results show that the sector currently emits 65 Tg N yr−1 , equivalent to one-third of current human-induced N emissions and sufficient to meet the planetary boundary for N. Of that amount, 66% is allocated to Asia and 68% is associated with feed production. Most emissions originate from locally produced animal-sourced food, although N emissions embedded in international trade are significant for some importing countries. Given the magnitude of its impacts and its central role in both domestic and international N challenges, the livestock sector urgently requires a global initiative to tackle N pollution while supporting food security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-446
Number of pages10
JournalNature Food
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2020


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