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Environmental Footprints of Beef Produced At the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center

Environmental Footprints of Beef Produced At the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center



Proceedings available at: http://www.extension.org/67680 ...

Proceedings available at: http://www.extension.org/67680

As a major contributor in food production, beef production provides a major service to our economy that must be maintained. Production of cattle and the associated feed crops required also impact our environment, and this impact is not well understood. Several studies have determined the carbon footprint of beef, but there are other environmental impacts that must be considered such as fossil energy use, water use, and reactive nitrogen loss to the environment. Because of the large amount of data available to support model evaluation, production systems of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center were simulated with the Integrated Farm System Model for the purpose of evaluating the environmental impact of the beef cattle produced.

Presented by: Al Rotz



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  • Updated 11/13
  • Updated 11/13
  • Updated 11/13
  • Updated 11/13
  • Updated 11/13
  • Updated 11/13
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  • Updated 11/13

Environmental Footprints of Beef Produced At the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center Environmental Footprints of Beef Produced At the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center Presentation Transcript

  • Environmental Footprints ofBeef Produced at MARCUSDA, Agricultural Research ServiceUniversity Park, PennsylvaniaC. A. Rotz, B. J. Isenberg,K. R. Stackhouse-Lawson,and E. J. Pollak
  •  A number of studies have evaluated the carbonfootprint of beef production Very few studies have lookedat other environmental issues There is a need for a moreholistic evaluation A methodology that can beapplied to all beef production systems
  • To develop a methodology for evaluating theenvironmental footprints of current and historicalbeef cattle production systems for the U.S. MeatAnimal Research Center (MARC)
  •  Life Cycle Assessment: an environmentalaccounting program Process-based model: a simulation of theproduction system Combined simulation and LCA:Simulation is used to provide theparameters for the LCA
  • Integrated Farm System Model
  • Feed ProductionAnimal ProductionManure HandlingResource inputsFuelElectricityFertilizerPesticidePlasticMachineryOff-farm heifersPurchased feedImported manureMilk soldAnimals soldFeed soldExported manureDirect Sinks and SourcesFixed CO2 CO2 N2O CH4 CO2 CH4 CO2 N2OFarmPre-chain SourcesCO2 CH4 N2OEmissionsallocated toother farmproducts(Cradle-to-farm gate)
  •  Carbon emission Energy use Water use Reactive nitrogen loss
  •  Total CH4, N2O and CO2 emittedexpressed per unit of bodyweight Excludes all biological sinksand sources of CO2 Includes the CO2 from combustion andthat assimilated in the CH4 produced
  •  Fossil energy used per unit body weightproduced Includes fuel, natural gas andelectricity use Includes energy used to produce theresources used (fuel, electricity, fertilizer,purchased feed, etc.)
  •  Water used per unit of body weightproduced Excludes precipitation Includes water used to producepurchased feed
  •  Total reactive N lost perunit of body weightproduced Includes:Ammonia emissionNitrous oxide emissionNOx emissionNitrate leaching and runoff
  •  Farm Spring cow calf Fall cow calf Feedlot
  •  About 5,000 acres of alfalfa and corn with a fewacres of soybeans Alfalfa primarily harvested in large round balesstored outside Corn harvested as silage, high moisture grain anddry grain Irrigation is used to produce all crops Strip tillage system used for corn and soybeans
  •  (Spring calving) 4,100 cows plus replacements(Fall calving) 1,400 cows plus replacements 24,000 acres of grazed pasture Some pasture is irrigated (15 center pivots) Fed hay and silage duringthe winter months
  •  About 3,700 cattle finished each year Backgrounded for 3 months on high forage (hay,silage and distiller’s grain diet) Finished for 7 months on high grain (corn silage,corn and distiller’s grain) Finished at 16 months of age withan average weight of 1,280 lb All manure is returned to cropland
  •  Feed productionand use Energy use Production costsYear 2011
  • Actual Simulated DifferenceTon DM Ton DM %Alfalfa/grass hay & silage 9,506 9,596 0.9Corn silage 8,400 8,409 0.0High moisture corn 2,989 2,993 0.0Corn grain 4,100 4,131 0.7Soybeans 278 275 1.0Total 25,273 25,404 0.5
  • Actual Simulated DifferenceTon DM Ton DM %Pasture --- 25,430 ---Alfalfa/grass hay & silage 6,096 6,102 0.0Corn silage 5,444 5,422 0.4High moisture corn 3,092 3,109 0.5Corn grain 1,834 1,820 0.8Distiller’s grain 1,841 1,837 0.2Total 18,307 18,290 0.0
  • Actual Simulated DifferenceDiesel fuel & gasoline Gallon 122,298 121,191 0.9 %Natural gas Therm 103,656 103,952 0.3 %Electricity kWh 1,070,441 1,070,880 0.0 %
  • Actual Simulated Difference$ $ %Seed and herbicide 285,300 285,344 0.0Fertilizer 483,700 485,983 0.5Energy 513,182 512,561 0.0Labor 2,220,000 2,218,851 0.1Purchased feed 566,000 564,328 0.3Vet and medicine 80,000 80,496 0.6Implant and ionophore 7,600 7,671 0.9Breeding 60,000 60,028 0.9Other miscellaneous 100,000 99,921 0.1
  •  Carbon footprint Energy footprint Water footprint Reactive nitrogen footprint
  • 56%27%6% 11%10.9 lb CO2e/lb body weightCH4N2OCombustionPre-chain
  • Crop Farm10%Cow Calf71%Feedlot19%Individual Operation Contributions
  • 36%9%1%1%53%11,400 Btu/lb body weightFeed productionAnimal feedingManure handlingFacilitiesPre-chain
  • Crop Farm45%Cow Calf38%Feedlot17%Individual Operation Contributions
  • 81%1% 18%335 gal/lb of body weightFeedproduction, irrigationDrinkingPre-chain
  • Crop Farm61%Cow Calf26%Feedlot13%Individual Operation Contributions
  • 81%6%9%1% 3%0.0914 lb N/lb body weightAmmonia emissionNitrate leachingN2OCombustionPre-chain
  • Crop Farm6%Cow Calf61%Feedlot33%Individual Operation Contributions
  •  Removed soybeans (replaced with corn) Reduced corn yield 6% (genetic gain) Reduced finish weight of cattle by 3% Increased animal numbers 3% Replaced distiller’s grain withcorn and a little urea
  •  Replaced 1,700 acres of corn with bromegrasshay Reduced alfalfa yield 12%, corn yield 40% Removed irrigation of pasture Used smaller equipment and more tillage Reduced finish weight by 19% Increased animal numbers 19% Finished on corn silage and corn grain diet Finished at 16 months of age
  • 0246810121970 2005 2011FeedlotCow calfCrop farmlb CO2e/lb BW
  • 0246810121970 2005 2011FeedlotCow calfCrop farmMBtu/lb BW
  • 0501001502002503003501970 2005 2011FeedlotCow calfCrop farmGallon/lb BW
  • 0123456789101970 2005 2011FeedlotCow calfCrop farmlb N/cwt BW
  •  Our simulation methodology was able to accuratelyrepresent feed production and use, energy use andproduction costs of MARC Based upon simulated performance, environmentalfootprints were determined Since 2005, feeding distiller’s grain has caused some increasein the environmental footprints Since 1970, the carbon footprint has decreased 6% with nochange in the energy footprint, a 3% reduction in the reactivenitrogen footprint, a 42% increase in the water footprint, anda 6% reduction in the real cost of production
  • This proven methodology provides a means for furtheranalysis of regional and national impacts of beefproduction and the production data needed for a fulllife cycle assessment of the sustainability of beef
  •  Resource consumption Total air emissions Total water emissions Toxicity potential Solid waste Land use Social impacts Indicator of total impact
  • USDAPasture Systems and WatershedManagement Research UnitUniversity Park, PennsylvaniaAgricultural Research Service