Swine Science Cluster – Pig Footprinting

Advancing the Canadian Swine Sector Through Environmental Footprint Analysis

Funding Program

Canadian Agriculture Partnership AgriScience Program – Swine Cluster led by Swine Innovation Porc (SIP)

Funding Sources
Principal Investigator and Collaborators

This project is a collaborative initiative under the umbrella of the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment (NCLE)

  • PI: Dr. Mario Tenuta (Professor of Applied Soil Ecology, University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Shabtai Bittman (Agronomy Research Scientist, AAFC – Agassiz)
  • Dr. Bernard Goyette (Agro-Environmental Process Engineering Research Scientist, AAFC – Sherbrooke)
  • Dr. Roland Kroebel (Lead, Holos Research Scientist, AAFC – Lethbridge)
  • Shannan Little (Associate Director, AAFC – Lethbridge)
  • Dr. Candido Pomar (Swine Nutrition Research Scientist, AAZFC – Sherbrooke)
  • Dr. Laurie Connor (Professor of Swine Production & Health, University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Martin Entz (Professor of Agronomy, University of Manitoba)
  • Christine Rawluk (NCLE Research Development & Communications Coordinator, University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Martin Nyachoti (Professor of Swine Nutrition, University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Qiang Zhang (Professor of Biosystems Engineering, University of Manitoba)
  • Dr. Derek Brewin (Professor of Agribusiness & Agricultural Economics, University of Manitoba)

This project will begin with a critical Literature Review to establish the current state of knowledge, including limitations, pertaining to environmental footprint indicators in the areas of odour emission, water use, energy use, nutrient discharge and greenhouse gas emissions, predictive models, and environmental sustainability indicators in Canada and elsewhere that may be applicable in the Canadian context. The literature review will also include a review of past pig production surveys to inform the design a new survey, as well as a review and evaluation of environmental footprint approaches to inform development of the environmental footprint assessment.

With input from experts across Canada, we will develop and execute a detailed Canada-wide whole-farm management practices survey of pig operations. This National Production Survey will encompass feed, water, animal, housing and manure management practices (in-barn, on-farm and in-field) as related to environmental sustainability in the areas of odour, water use, nutrients, use of antibiotics and antibiotic alternatives, building design, energy use, manure systems and greenhouse gas emissions.

The research group will perform On-Farm Case Studies to address gaps in data not obtained or to obtain data from few facilities. We will critically review survey responses and data needs for environmental footprint modelling. Gaps in data will be identified and prioritized so as to best invest resources for on-farm measures.

Resource needs and outputs for various life stages, including these piglets, will be used in the “cradle to gate” Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental Footprint Assessment for pig production in Canada ©Hytek

Lastly, the project will use a “cradle to gate” Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to develop an Environmental Footprint Assessment that consists of three components: (1) an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions intensity of national/provincial pork production, in combination with estimates of ammonia, as well as for an earlier period (e.g. 1986 and 2016) so that over-time comparisons can be made, (2) an estimate of water footprint of different feeding strategies for representative pork production systems that includes both crop production (i.e. evapotranspiration, crop water utilization) and animal production (i.e. consumption, in-barn use, manure management) water use components, and (3) an economic analysis as an environmental footprint assessment component, drawing on resources including the Holos economic crop component, literature values and expert opinion to calculate feed production costs and to estimate the livestock economics.

  • Establish the current production efficiency and environmental footprint of producing pigs in Canada.
  • Determine changes in production practices over the past 10-12 years.
  • Identify improvements in the environmental footprint of pig farming in Canada, through comparison of current pig farming in Canada to an earlier period (e.g. 30 years ago). 
Two-cell earthen slurry lagoon to produce manure of low and high nitrogen:phosphorus ratio in the primary and secondary cell, respectively, in order to optimize manure nutrient content. ©Mario Tenuta
Benefits to the Pork Industry
  • Efforts to reduce environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions, often also improve production efficiencies.
  • Improved production practices aimed at mitigating environmental impact may lead to improved efficiencies at the primary production level regarding feed, animal, barn, and/or manure management.
  • Regionally based strategies will aid in improving productivity and production costs by tailoring them to the production practices and conditions of that region.
  • Improvements in manure handling, storage, and application strategies to reduce environmental impacts may also decrease the risk of disease spread.
  • Advancements in feed formulations, feed management and pig management strategies to reduce environmental impact may also reduce the risk of disease occurrence and/or transmission.

Welcome to the Applied Soil Ecology Lab at the University of Manitoba