Development of a decision-support tool to evaluate the environmental impacts of monogastric animal farms in Wallonia
The objective of this project is to characterize the environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions GHGs, energy consumption, ammonia emissions and fine particles emissions from Walloon farms producing pigs or poultry. A decision support tool specific to Walloon monogastric animal farms will be made available to the Walloon agricultural sector. (1) To help farmers reduce their environmental impact by identifying the levers for improvement to be implemented in their farms by comparing themselves with farms of similar structure. (2) To provide objective reference values of sector emissions that take into account actual farm practices and the services they provide to society (renewable energy production, carbon storage, etc…)
Animal production is known to have a significant environmental impact as a result of the emission of molecules into the environment affecting air, water and soil quality and the use of limited and non-renewable natural resources (Steinfield et al., 2006). The agricultural industry represents 14% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Walloon region (AWAC, 2015). These emissions are mainly from biological processes producing methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The methane is mainly derived from livestock activities (enteric fermentation of ruminants and storage of farm manures). N2O comes from the management of nitrogen fertilization and farm manures. CH4 and N2O emissions of the agricultural sector come mainly from cattle (84%). However, the swine and poultry sectors also contribute 11% and 5% respectively. Emissions related to fossil fuel combustion by the agricultural sector represent only 8% of the total (PACE, 2014). These emissions have dropped by 14% since 1990, mainly due to a decrease in the number of livestock. Agriculture also produces ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) which contribute to other environmental impacts such as acidification, eutrophication and surfaces water pollution (ICEW, 2014). NH3 production; is mainly related to nitrogen management (excretion of animals, nitrogen fertilization, crop residues, atmospheric fallout). Air quality is a major concern for the European community (European Commission, 2008). In 2012, 88% of NH3 emissions in Walloon were derived from agricultural practices (storage and spreading of livestock manure, spreading of mineral fertilizers) (AWAC, 2017). In Belgium, the Industrial Emissions Directive IED (European Commission, 2010) related to industrial emissions applied to 810 intensive production farms for pigs and poultry (Guigand N., 2014). This directive mainly targets NH3, fine particles and odors but also insists on the reduction of direct consumption of water and energy. In Wallonia, the Plan Air Energy Climate, PACE, aims to reduce GHG emissions 17% (compared to the reference year 1990) by 2022 (AWAC, 2014).
The adaptation of the DECiDE decision-making aid tool to swine and poultry farms will enable the completion of GHG and NH4, FP assessments and energy consumption for these two new sectors (currently DECiDE is used to calculate GHG balances and energy consumption of field crops and beef farms). These reviews will provide farmers with technical advice for improving their environmental performance.
The overall objective is to characterize the environmental impact: GHG emissions, energy consumption, ammonia emissions (NH3) and fine particles (FP) emissions from Walloon farms producing pigs or poultry and to enable farmers to identify the improvements levers to be implemented in their farm by comparing themselves with farms of similar structure.
To do this, it is necessary (1) to have an objective overview of the specific characteristics of Walloon swine and poultry farms. This deep knowledge of the systems will make it possible (2) to provide the agricultural sector with a decision support tool to specifically assess the environmental impact of these farms. This calculator will be integrated into an existing decision support tool (DECiDE) in order to enable the realization of energy, greenhouse gas, ammonia and fine particle balances for all the situations encountered on the concerned farms (field crops, beef and dairy cattle, swine, poultry, mixed).
The results obtained will be valued in the decision support tool in the form of farm-specific advice to reduce energy consumption and / or GHG / NH4/ FP emissions.
The central goal of the project is creating a diagnostic tool of Energy-Climate for Walloon agricultural farms adapted to monogastric farms. It provides data on energy consumption, GHG emissions, NH3 and FP, but also to quantify the services in which the agricultural sector is rendered to society (carbon storage, renewable energy).
This tool is intended to be open and free. it is based on international recommendations and scientific advances in assessing the environmental impact of farms, while integrating regional data specific to our farms.
This tool is accessible to all (after registration at CRA-W) via a platform on the net. It allows users to directly register farm information and to obtain results that locate their farm relative to average values.
CRA-W: Astrid Loriers (A.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech: Wail Al-Izzi (W.Alizzi@uliege.be); and Yves Beckers (Yves.Beckers@uliege.be)