Improved productivity reduces pork's environmental footprint

A Professor of Applied Soil Ecology with the University of Manitoba says the environmental footprint of pork production has been dramatically reduced over the past five decades.
calendar icon 4 January 2019
clock icon 3 minute read

On behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, scientists plan to examine the environmental footprint of Canadian pork production.

Dr Mario Tenuta, a professor of applied soil ecology with the University of Manitoba, says a study conducted in the United States that looked at pig production from 1959 to 2009 showed how pigs are produced and the environmental footprint of pig production have changed a lot.

Dr Tenuta said, "The amount of meat produced per animal went up. The animals are just much larger. The animals grew faster so it didn't take as much time to rear an animal to market weight.

"The feed use changed drastically where it went from wheat and corn predominantly to today using byproducts such as soybean meal and dried distillers grain.

"Land use changed quite a bit because corn is a major feed ingredient and the productivity of corn has just skyrocketed so there was great efficiency there.

"Chemical use, in terms of pesticide use went down as well. Water use has changed in barns. We've gone to much more efficient waterers. Manure production has changed from more solid to almost completely liquid handling or slurry based systems.

"And then the bottom line for carbon dioxide emissions or greenhouse gas emissions, actually is quite a reduction in terms emissions per amount of meat product produced."

Dr Tenuta says the Swine Innovation Porc project will look at the resources required to produce both the pigs and the feed the pigs consume to determine the overall environmental footprint of pork production.

As reported by Bruce Cochrane for

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