Photo: DAFC

Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

New collaboration spotlights common method for calculating the carbon footprint of feed

Agriculture in general, and the cereals and feed sector in particular, are firmly focused on initiatives that can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Much of agriculture’s carbon footprint comes from livestock production where feed accounts for a large percentage.

DAKOFO (the trade association for Denmark’s cereals and feed industry), Danish feed companies and SEGES Innovation recently embarked on a collaboration that will culminate in a project known as the 'Carbon Footprint of Feed'.

The Danish feed industry and agriculture in general are working on finding strategies to develop and deploy new feed components and concepts to reduce livestock production’s climate impact.

Read also: Danish agriculture’s digital climate tool

Feed database to calculate feed components
The project will create a basis and method for calculating and declaring the carbon footprint of feed. The project is based on the Global Feed LCA Institute and the GFLI feed database, which is backed by the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation. The EU Commission recommends using data that complies with the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) rules to calculate the carbon footprint of various products. The GFLI database was recently developed on the basis of the EU’s PEF rules. It is, therefore, entirely appropriate to use the GFLI database as the basis for calculating the carbon footprint of feed and consequently, the carbon footprint of a farm’s production, e.g. piglets, milk, eggs and animals for slaughter.

One of the objectives of the project is to develop methods and guidelines for the implementation and further development of the GFLI feed database, which will provide a robust base for calculating the carbon footprint of feed in Denmark.

The GFLI feed database has been developed using data from over 1,000 feed mills in various countries, but it is not yet complete as it takes time to develop a fully global system. The project will aim to address this issue and then draw up a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for selected feed materials so that the feed industry and Danish agriculture in general is even better equipped to use climate data on farms.

Read also: New climate gains for Danish pig production

From farm to fork
LCA calculations are used as a sub element for life cycle assessments that calculate the potential environmental impacts and resource consumption linked to a given product. In this case, the production of feed components and the subsequent value chain for the production of milk, pigs, poultry and beef.

The idea is to incorporate the product’s entire life cycle in the climate and environmental assessment from farm to fork. In short, it’s a matter of accounting for the product’s entire life cycle, not just focusing on individual parts of it. By looking at the products from a life cycle perspective, it is ensured that the spotlight is trained on where maximum climate and environmental benefits can be obtained.

The project’s ultimate aim is that the more comprehensive climate assessment of feed components will be able to provide climate-optimised feed mixes that virtually all farms will be able to use. Moreover, the assessment will prove to be the tool that has a significant impact on the carbon footprint of food and thus reduce the carbon footprint of livestock production.

Read also: Sustainable pig meat – more for less

Fact box:
The Carbon Footprint of Feed project is financed by the Promille Levy Fund for Agriculture.
The participants include: SEGES Innovation, DAKOFO and companies from the feed industry.

Objective: To support the farmer’s opportunity to implement improvement measures that contribute to the green transition of farms using feed and fodder as the means.
The aim of the project is to implement the basis for climate declarations on feed and feed mixes and to contribute knowledge about feed as a tool that provides farmers with the optimum basis for implementing improvement measures.

The Global Feed LCA Institute or the GLI database builds on internationally agreed rules for the environmental and carbon footprint of feed components. The European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation, FEFAC, has coordinated the development of GFLI in Europe. Together, DAKOFO, the feed industry and SEGES agree that the GFLI is the future tool for calculating the carbon footprint of feed.