by Landboungdom (Rural Youth)

Description

The climate is a real challenge for the whole world: the average global temperature is increasing. More extreme weather conditions are observed. Farmers are greatly affected by the weather condition. Even a single hot Summer resulting in a bad harvest has the possibility to ruin local farmers’ economic prospects for years to come. As the weather changes, the crops and seeds used by local farms are not necessarily in their natural habitat any longer. Food production impacts the climate and, as a result, new and innovative solutions are needed to feed a growing population while considering the climate challenges the world is facing.
Rural Youth identified best practices in adaptation and mitigation of climate change on pig farming:

  • Emissions could be reduced by about 22% by removing manure more frequently from pigsties into manure tanks.
    This method is called frequent evacuation. In short, it implies transferring manure from the pigsty to a manure tank more quickly. Instead of evacuating the manure every five to six weeks, it is evacuated once a week.
    Since the temperature of the manure tank is lower than that of the pigsty, methane emissions are lower, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that methane emissions from pork production could be reduced by 22% by applying the frequent evacuation method in 90 % of pigsties.
  • Renovating existing buildings help minimize the use of materials and creating functional state-of-the-art stables.
    Thereby we are tapping into the circular economy ensuring better management of the earth’s resources. The growth of the world economy and the growing world population will mean increased global demand and an increase in resource consumption. This implies a more circular mindset. Thus, renovation of for example old, out of use, poultry buildings into pig stables ensures proper recycling of materials and waste prevention through repaired or upgraded investments.
  • Efficient and short transportation of farm animals helps to lessen livestock emissions and ensure animal welfare.
    Optimal location of a slaughterhouse means that pigs do not need to be on the road for more than 20 minutes before they arrive at the local slaughter.

Results

  • Implementing frequent evacuation systems is not free of charge and it is estimated that for example full implementation of the frequent evacuation method would cost the industry 2 million euros (around 2.2 million US $) per year.
  • Investing in buildings is an indispensable necessity. Using existing buildings at our farm means the cost of renovation is somewhat higher, however taken into consideration the alternative investment in new buildings the financial scope is somewhat limited. Moreover, the local community is now rid of buildings that otherwise would be dilapidated.
  • Short transporting of animals: transport represents almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. As we are able to transport pigs in short distances, the pollution from the livestock supply chain are held at a minimum. This proves local jobs in rural areas benefitting the community, welfare for the animals and lessen the emissions from transportation.

Climate smartness*

The promoted practices on this project are focused mainly on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from both animal excreta management, material recycling and use reduction in fossil fuel use. The project may additionally benefit if the use of climate information is carried out to plan and manage pork production, in terms of improving potential stresses that climate may be generating and, therefore, affecting the productivity of the system.
If the information is available, it might be worth sharing how the implementation of the practices is reducing production costs and /or increasing revenues for the farmers.
In the same way, it might be important to explore further low-cost mechanisms that would enable scaling out/up the practice to other areas.

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*This is done in the framework of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) approach. Climate-smartness in agriculture means understanding impacts of climate change and variability along with the agricultural activity, which includes the planning of what crop to plant, when to plant, what variety to plant and what type of management practices are needed to reduce the impact on the environment (e.g. emissions reduction), maintain or increase productivity (e.g. yields) while increasing resilience and improving livelihoods.