July 24, 2006

Best management practices could reduce pork industry GHG emissions by 37M tonnes

Applying best management practices demonstrated as part of a recent research project could potentially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Canada's pork industry by nearly 37 million tonnes.

DGH Engineering, in St Andrews, Manitoba, conducted the "Best Management Practices for Greenhouse Gas Reduction" study in order to find, implement, and demonstrate best management practices for confined pig feeding operations that would lead to reduced GHG emissions. The project was funded by the Canadian Pork Council.

Two out of four barns at the BioSearch International research facilities were fitted with wet/dry feeders, phytase-enriched feed, air-to-air heat exchangers, pit separations and a night setback device. For control purposes, the other two barns were left unaltered.

Monitoring of these practices over an eight-week period confirmed savings in energy, water use and nutrients that translated into a total reduction of 2.92 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per 800 pigs. By extrapolating these findings across the Canadian pork industry, the consultants calculated a potential total reduction of approximately 36.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

"This study demonstrates that greenhouse gas emissions by the hog industry can be reduced and provides practical direction to farmers on how to do this," said Dennis Hodgkinson, president of DGH Engineering.

The leading source of GHG emissions from hog production is propane heating of the barns. The study showed that the energy savings resulting from the heat exchangers and night setback devices alone yielded a 30% reduction in GHG emissions from propane. This confirmed similar findings from previous studies reviewed by the consultants.

The extrapolation of potential GHG reductions included a province-by-province assessment, taking into account the 2001 agricultural census as well as results from this and other studies. The potential reduction was calculated to be greatest for Quebec, at 11.5 million tonnes of GHG emissions, followed by Ontario and Manitoba (roughly 7.4 million tonnes each) and Alberta, at 5.7 million tonnes.

The full study report may be viewed on the DGH Web site, www.dghengineering.com. DGH Engineering specializes in providing engineering services to primary agriculture in Canada. The firm has conducted a number of research projects focused on sustainable development in this sector. More information is available from Betty-lynn Hodgkinson at DGH Engineering, 204/334-8846, E-mail dgh@dghengineering.com.

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