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Swine production systems in the U.S. have long been guided by efforts to increase productivity, decrease costs of production and minimize environmental impacts. Public policy is currently considering the impacts of these production systems on regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their potential impact on global climate change. There is a gap between our understanding of these impacts and our ability to make informed decisions to guide changes in breeding, feeding, waste management and other production practices. Therefore, a USDA NIFA project was funded to experimentally evaluate mitigation technologies to support development of a robust and accurate process-based Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) model of GHG emission from swine production systems; to couple this model with Life Cycle Cost Analysis; and utilize this model as an education and outreach tool for evaluating the environmental footprint of swine production facilities. The project objectives are:
Perform experimental validation of the effectiveness of selected mitigation strategies, including dietary feeding strategies (reduced nitrogen, growth enhancers), health status, barn and manure management options (solids separation, algal nutrient removal, gasification).
Integrate process models of swine production with coupled LCA and economic model to create a decision support tool to identify economical swine production system options which minimize GHG emissions and increase sustainability of swine production systems.
Develop and implement education and outreach programs utilizing the interaction between climate and swine science to introduce life cycle thinking and systems analysis into the national sustainable agriculture conversation.