Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an often used tool to assess environmental impacts (resource use and emission of pollutants) throughout a production chain. Results could be used to pinpoint hotspots, assess variation or show consequences of changes in the chain.
Livestock products (meat, milk, eggs) are an important source of protein for humans. To provide humanity with sufficient protein, however, it becomes increasingly important to use resources, like land, efficiently. Currently, land occupation, the amount of land used to produce a crop, for example, is considered in many LCA studies. When assessing land occupation for the production of feed for animals, however, we need to take into account the increasing competition for land for food, feed, fuel and nature. This competition is not incorporated in currently used land use assessment methods.
Animal breeding aims at providing the sector with the ‘animals of the future’. These animals, however, need to perform optimal on the ‘ration of the future’ and not on the ‘current ration’. Animal nutrition and breeding, therefore, both need reliable data on land use and use of other resources that incorporate this competition, to define the ‘ration of the future’ and the ‘animals of the future’ that perform best on these rations.
The project team is currently working on the first results from analyses on land occupation, including human-animal competition, for dairy and egg production. Based on these results we will define categories, and underlying traits, where animal breeding could be used to reduce this impact.
Other chains (broilers, pigs, etc.) and other impacts (water and energy use, but also emission of pollutants) will then be analysed as well. As a start for these analyses, all chains involved in B4F will be ‘mapped’ in order to envisage where consequences of changes will take place.
For more information, please contact Erwin.Mollenhorst@wur.nl