Comparing the environmental impacts of alternative protein crops in poultry diets: the consequences of uncertainty

Ilkka Leinonen, Adrian G. Williams, Anthony H. Waller, Ilias Kyriazakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The statistical significance of the effects of including different protein sources in poultry diets on the environmental impacts Global Warming Potential (GWP), Eutrophication Potential (EP) and Acidification Potential (AP) of typical UK broiler meat and egg production systems was quantified using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method combined with an uncertainty analysis. The broiler and layer diets compared in the study were either standard soya-based, or alternative diets based on European-grown protein crops, including field beans, field peas, sunflower meal and whole rapeseed. Different methods for accounting for land use change (LUC) in feed crop production were applied, including (1) a weighted average of "new" and "mature" agricultural land used for soya production ("best estimate" scenario), (2) assuming no LUC in the production of soya used in these diets ("sustainable soya" scenario) and (3) including indirect LUC for all arable crop production ("top-down" scenario). Monte Carlo simulations were used to quantify uncertainties in predicted impacts and to perform statistical comparisons between the effects of different diet compositions. The results showed that when included at relatively high levels in the diets (10-30% by mass), peas, beans and rapeseed could slightly reduce the simulated mean value of GWP (up to 12%) of broiler meat and egg production. However, when uncertainties in the data were taken into account, these reductions were not statistically significant. Furthermore, the reduction in GWP strongly depended on the method of LUC accounting applied in the analysis. With the "sustainable soya" and "top-down" scenarios, only small, non-significant differences between the different diets were found. In the case of EP, only small non-significant changes could be achieved with the alternative protein sources. For AP, a significant reduction of more than 20% could be achieved if the crude protein content of the broiler diet was reduced by using peas in combination with pure amino acids. This study demonstrates the importance of a holistic approach, coupled with Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis, to evaluate the environmental impacts of livestock systems. It takes into account the environmental burdens related, for example, to feed production and transport and differences in emissions from housing and the end use of the manure. Furthermore, due to the systematic uncertainty analysis, the statistical significance of the effects of different feeding scenarios can now be evaluated. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume121
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

environmental impact
poultry
uncertainty
land use change
uncertainty analysis
crops
diet
broiler chickens
global warming
proteins
peas
meat production
rapeseed
protein sources
acidification
eutrophication
crop production
egg production
beans
sunflower meal

Keywords

  • Broiler production
  • Egg production
  • Global warming potential
  • Land use change
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Soya

Cite this

Leinonen, Ilkka ; Williams, Adrian G. ; Waller, Anthony H. ; Kyriazakis, Ilias. / Comparing the environmental impacts of alternative protein crops in poultry diets: the consequences of uncertainty. In: Agricultural Systems. 2013 ; Vol. 121. pp. 33-42.
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Comparing the environmental impacts of alternative protein crops in poultry diets: the consequences of uncertainty. / Leinonen, Ilkka; Williams, Adrian G.; Waller, Anthony H.; Kyriazakis, Ilias.

In: Agricultural Systems, Vol. 121, 10.2013, p. 33-42.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Comparing the environmental impacts of alternative protein crops in poultry diets: the consequences of uncertainty

AU - Leinonen, Ilkka

AU - Williams, Adrian G.

AU - Waller, Anthony H.

AU - Kyriazakis, Ilias

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N2 - The statistical significance of the effects of including different protein sources in poultry diets on the environmental impacts Global Warming Potential (GWP), Eutrophication Potential (EP) and Acidification Potential (AP) of typical UK broiler meat and egg production systems was quantified using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method combined with an uncertainty analysis. The broiler and layer diets compared in the study were either standard soya-based, or alternative diets based on European-grown protein crops, including field beans, field peas, sunflower meal and whole rapeseed. Different methods for accounting for land use change (LUC) in feed crop production were applied, including (1) a weighted average of "new" and "mature" agricultural land used for soya production ("best estimate" scenario), (2) assuming no LUC in the production of soya used in these diets ("sustainable soya" scenario) and (3) including indirect LUC for all arable crop production ("top-down" scenario). Monte Carlo simulations were used to quantify uncertainties in predicted impacts and to perform statistical comparisons between the effects of different diet compositions. The results showed that when included at relatively high levels in the diets (10-30% by mass), peas, beans and rapeseed could slightly reduce the simulated mean value of GWP (up to 12%) of broiler meat and egg production. However, when uncertainties in the data were taken into account, these reductions were not statistically significant. Furthermore, the reduction in GWP strongly depended on the method of LUC accounting applied in the analysis. With the "sustainable soya" and "top-down" scenarios, only small, non-significant differences between the different diets were found. In the case of EP, only small non-significant changes could be achieved with the alternative protein sources. For AP, a significant reduction of more than 20% could be achieved if the crude protein content of the broiler diet was reduced by using peas in combination with pure amino acids. This study demonstrates the importance of a holistic approach, coupled with Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis, to evaluate the environmental impacts of livestock systems. It takes into account the environmental burdens related, for example, to feed production and transport and differences in emissions from housing and the end use of the manure. Furthermore, due to the systematic uncertainty analysis, the statistical significance of the effects of different feeding scenarios can now be evaluated. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

AB - The statistical significance of the effects of including different protein sources in poultry diets on the environmental impacts Global Warming Potential (GWP), Eutrophication Potential (EP) and Acidification Potential (AP) of typical UK broiler meat and egg production systems was quantified using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method combined with an uncertainty analysis. The broiler and layer diets compared in the study were either standard soya-based, or alternative diets based on European-grown protein crops, including field beans, field peas, sunflower meal and whole rapeseed. Different methods for accounting for land use change (LUC) in feed crop production were applied, including (1) a weighted average of "new" and "mature" agricultural land used for soya production ("best estimate" scenario), (2) assuming no LUC in the production of soya used in these diets ("sustainable soya" scenario) and (3) including indirect LUC for all arable crop production ("top-down" scenario). Monte Carlo simulations were used to quantify uncertainties in predicted impacts and to perform statistical comparisons between the effects of different diet compositions. The results showed that when included at relatively high levels in the diets (10-30% by mass), peas, beans and rapeseed could slightly reduce the simulated mean value of GWP (up to 12%) of broiler meat and egg production. However, when uncertainties in the data were taken into account, these reductions were not statistically significant. Furthermore, the reduction in GWP strongly depended on the method of LUC accounting applied in the analysis. With the "sustainable soya" and "top-down" scenarios, only small, non-significant differences between the different diets were found. In the case of EP, only small non-significant changes could be achieved with the alternative protein sources. For AP, a significant reduction of more than 20% could be achieved if the crude protein content of the broiler diet was reduced by using peas in combination with pure amino acids. This study demonstrates the importance of a holistic approach, coupled with Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis, to evaluate the environmental impacts of livestock systems. It takes into account the environmental burdens related, for example, to feed production and transport and differences in emissions from housing and the end use of the manure. Furthermore, due to the systematic uncertainty analysis, the statistical significance of the effects of different feeding scenarios can now be evaluated. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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KW - Egg production

KW - Global warming potential

KW - Land use change

KW - Life Cycle Assessment

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