Pig industry slashes greenhouse gas emissions

Two years after the publication of the BPEX roadmap for the environmental sustainability of the English pig industry, it’s been revealed that the reduction in climate change potential (carbon footprint) already achieved is beyond expectation.

In particular, emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane etc) were 26% lower in 2012 than the benchmark year of 2008, far exceeding the 2020 target of a 17% cut. This amounts to a fall in 800,000 tonnes of CO2 equivelants being released into the atmosphere by the pig sector.

The latest figures were revealed in a report was launched yesterday (January 21) by Farming Minister George Eustice at an industry meeting held at the House of Commons.

There have also been considerable improvements in eutrophication, acidification and resource depletion four years into the 12-year timeframe. That is, the idustry is using resources more efficiently and stemming the losses of phosphorous, ammonia and using energy better.

The composition of pig feed delivered the greatest single contribution to the reduction in carbon footprint.

This is not totally unexpected as volatility and high commodity prices in 2010 caused feed compounders and nutritionists working directly with farmers to find new sources of proteins in particular resulting in a move away from soya bean meal to food co-products and by-products.

At the same time we have also seen improvements in farm productivity and pig health which are demonstrating the industry’s pro-active approach.

“It is with a great deal of satisfaction – but a total absence of complacency – that I can report outstanding progress to date,” BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston said.

“Of the improvements we forecast would be achieved by 2020 in the four key environmental impact categories identified, climate change potential has already been exceeded; eutrophication has almost been met and we are already more than half way to achieving our goals in the other two categories, acidification and abiotic resource depletion – all after only two years.

“This is an outstanding achievement by any measure and particularly commendable in the economic climate currently challenging all agricultural sectors.

“That said, many of the ways in which we are reducing our impact on the environment also deliver production efficiencies for producers. “

George Eustice added: “The industry set itself very challenging targets and has made huge progress towards achieving these.”

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