EUROTIER - Sustainability: Fashion or Fact?

GERMANY - The International EuroTier Pig Event took place yesterday with the hot topic of sustainability, writes Jackie Linden, editor of ThePigSite.
calendar icon 16 November 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

The events programme even for the day preceding today's opening of EuroTier 2010 was a busy one. The specialist programmes for the pig, poultry and cattle industries reflect the importance of these businesses to the German economy. And for the pig industry, the organisers DLG, European Pig Producers (EPP) and the German pig producers' association, ZDS, chose that hottest of topics – sustainability – as the theme for their event.

Carbon footprint as part of eco-efficiency

Following a welcome by EPP President, Eric Thijssen, Andreas Kicherer of BASF's Sustainability Center spoke about the options and limits for carbon footprint as a part of eco-efficiency analysis.

He explained that sustainability comprises three elements: ecology, economy and social aspects.

"The ecological fingerprint has to balance environmental indicators, such as energy, resources, land use etc," he said, "and carbon footprint is just one of these indicators."

He went on to explain that a sustainability assessment method involves life cycle inventory, life cycle assessment and an Eco-Efficiency Analysis, a system developed by BASF 14 years ago, which has now been used for 450 studies.

Using the example of salmon production in Norway using different feeds, he stressed how what may first appear to be an eco-efficient solution may not prove to be so desirable when all aspects are considered. He showed that although a marine diet was calculated to have the lowest carbon footprint, it produced the highest total environmental impact. This eco-efficiency analysis is available to BASF's fish farming customers on-line so they can make the analysis for their own particular circumstances.

Finally, he described BASF's SET programme, which combines sustainability, eco-efficiency analysis and traceability.

Carbon-neutral pig production

Unfortunately, Søren Hansen, the Danish pig farmer scheduled to speak on this topic, was unable to attend the meeting. However, participants were able to gain an overview of his presentation 'Pig City – from Vision to Reality' with a short video film.

Mr Hansen's vision off carbon-neutral pig production can be achieved by combining pig production with glasshouses producing tomatoes. In a futurist building of 50,000 square metres, the pigs are housed on the lower floor, with the greenhouse above.

The idea is that the greenhouses will benefit from the heat generated from the pigs – both directly and indirectly through the production of biogas – while the manure will be used as fertiliser.

High welfare standards are also important to this system: animals are bedded on straw and there are no tethers, docking or castration.

In his closing address, Helmut Ehlen, the president of ZDS and vice-president of DLG, stressed how everyone these days is talking about sustainability – but they often mean different things.

It is certainly not just a fashion to use resources efficiently, he said, but he stressed the need for the business to make a profit too.

Finally, he warned that contradictions can arise between important goals, citing the examples of animal welfare and environmental impact.

Further Reading

- You can find out more about Pig City in this article on ThePigSite by clicking here.
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