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Measuring Carbon Emissions from Green and Low-Carbon Full-Life-Cycle Feeding in Large-Scale Pig Production Systems: A Case Study from Shaanxi Province, China

In the pursuit of establishing a more environmentally sustainable and low-carbon hog farming system, the accurate quantification of emissions of greenhouse gas emanating from these systems, especially within the context of China, becomes imperative. Here, drawing insights from a life cycle approach, exhaustive field surveys, and context-specific analyses, we establish an emission measurement index system tailored to hog farming enterprises in China’s Shaanxi Province. Using this methodology, we probed the emission profiles and characteristics of three emblematic hog farming enterprises in the region. Our key findings are as follows: (1) The carbon dioxide emissions per kilogram of pork, factoring in feed cultivation, processing, and transportation, for Pucheng Xinliu Science and Technology, Baoji Zhengneng Farming, and Baoji Zhenghui Farming were quantified as 0.80298 kg, 1.52438 kg, and 0.81366 kg, respectively. (2) Presently, the methane emission coefficient due to enteric fermentation in large-scale hog farms in Shaanxi surpasses the default value set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There appears to be a consistent underestimation of enteric methane emissions from live pigs in the province, as gauged against the IPCC metrics. Notably, the emission factor for fattening pigs averaged 2.61823 kgCH4/head/year, while that for breeding pigs stood at 2.96752 kgCH4/head/year. (3) When examining methane and nitrous oxide outputs from manure across various production stages, we observed that emissions from lactating pigs significantly outweigh those from other stages. Interestingly, nitrous oxide emissions from breeding pigs during fattening, finishing, and gestation remained nearly the same, regardless of the manure treatment method. (4) Under the management protocols followed by Pucheng and Baoji, the total carbon emissions from an individual fattening pig amounted to 328.5283 kg and 539.2060 kg, respectively, whereas for breeding pigs, these values were 539.2060 kg and 551.6733 kg, respectively. Further calculations showed that the average carbon footprint CF of large-scale pig farms in China was 3.6281 kgCO2/kg pork. In conclusion, optimizing feed cultivation and transportation logistics, promoting integrated breeding and rearing practices, refining feed formulation, and advancing manure management practices can collaboratively attenuate greenhouse gas emissions. Such synergistic approaches hold promise for steering the hog industry towards a greener, low-carbon, and sustainable trajectory.

Publication date: 15/12/2023

Author: Qingsong Zhang

Reference: doi: 10.3390/agriculture13122281



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.