Livestock and climate change

Livestock and climate change: Mankind’s growing hunger for meat contributes to a disruption of natural biogeochemical cycles. Evonik’s animal feed solutions can reduce the burden on the environment.

The problem: Livestock and climate change

Animal protein production is GHG-intensive (greenhouse-gas-intensive) relative to other types of food, contributing 14.5 percent of global emissions. We need to dramatically reduce this figure if we are to reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Click here to learn more about our solutions to this problem.

When considering livestock and climate change, there is another environmental challenge that is lesser understood: the nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth, so farmers generally fertilize crops to improve yields. Furthermore, excess nitrogen is excreted by farm animals and can pollute air, soils, and water. Thus, accelerating climate change and biodiversity loss. Action to contain nitrogen emissions is essential for the health of our planet: In 2009, researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Australian National University defined nine essential environmental processes called the planetary boundaries framework. For each process, the researchers have assessed whether human activity has pushed the system beyond a dangerous tipping point and left safe zones of operation behind. As you can see below, nitrogen flows are one of the most heavily disrupted boundaries. Solutions to this crisis are urgently needed.

In the livestock production process, most GHG and nitrogen emissions come from growing crops for animal feed and animal excretions. This means that we can dramatically reduce climate change impacts and harmful nitrogen flows by changing what animals eat.

Common feed ingredients such as wheat, corn, soybeans, and peas are ‘incomplete’ proteins, meaning they are all low in one or more essential amino acid. To provide livestock with all necessary amino acids, farmers can simply keep adding more crops until all nutritional requirements are met – or they can target specific nutrient requirements through amino acid supplementation.

With low-protein, amino-acid enriched feed, farmers can achieve better health outcomes for animals and reduce the amount of crops required in their diets. This increased efficiency saves money, improves animal welfare and lowers GHG and nitrogen emissions in the production process.

The planetary boundaries framework from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Licenced under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.  (Credit: J. Lokrantz/Azote based on Steffen et al. 2015.) 
The planetary boundaries framework from the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Licenced under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.  (Credit: J. Lokrantz/Azote based on Steffen et al. 2015.) 

Our solutions: Sustainable livestock production and climate change mitigation

By using an optimal blend of our performance-enhancing products, we can drive huge improvements in sustainability. Evonik Animal Nutrition products and services have the potential to reduce the production of livestock’s climate change impacts by up to 21 percent and harmful nitrogen impacts by up to 19 percent.

These findings are based on lifecycle assessment (LCA) calculations on the use of Evonik’s best practice amino acid products and services in pork, broiler, and egg production.

The calculations were independently certified by TÜV Rheinland which provides comprehensive inspection, testing, verification, and certification services around the world.

Watch our video to learn how we are fighting climate change through saving emissions.