Nitrogen use indicators in Pig supply chains
Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Pig supply chains are developing rapidly in East and Southeast Asia (ESEA), fuelled by population growth, growing incomes and urbanization that lead to increased demand for animal produce. Pig supply chains, however, are associated with losses of reactive nitrogen (Nr) to the environment at various stages of the chain. To benchmark livestock supply chains and identify improvement options, we previously developed a framework to assess Nr use efficiency at chain level. This framework compromises three indicators: life-cycle nitrogen use efficiency (life-cycle-NUEN), life-cycle net nitrogen balance (life-cycle-NNBN), and nitrogen hotspot index (NHIN). The aim of this study is to apply these three indicators to pig supply chains in ESEA. Preliminary results showed that the computed Life-cycle Nr use efficiency indicators vary greatly between backyard, intermediate and industrial supply chains. Industrial supply chains had relatively higher estimates of life-cycle-NUEN than intermediate and backyard supply chains. Our data showed a negative relationship between life-cycle-NNBN and NHIN demonstrating the presence of hotspots of Nr losses in backyard and intermediate supply chains, as compared to industrial supply chains. These differences between supply chains result from differences in the origin of feed material, feed conversion, manure management system and animal health status. This study demonstrates that there is a scope to improve the Nr use efficiency in pig supply chains in ESEA, especially by focusing on the optimization of fertilization of local feed crops and manure management systems. Further research is required to assess the potential effectiveness of each of these interventions.