Energy use and nutrient cycling in pig production systems

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2007: $9,969.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Mark Honeyman
Iowa State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: swine


  • Animal Production: general animal production
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use

    Proposal abstract:

    United States pig production is particularly concentrated in the North Central Region, and is a major influence on the economic and ecological well-being of that community. Although often viewed as isolated entities at a macro-level, production of both crops and livestock are heavily influenced by each other. Recognizing influences between crops and livestock, and particularly utilizing complementary aspects of pig production and cropping systems is essential for achievement of greater sustainability within the North Central Region. Energy is used in all aspects of pig production, from the manufacture of materials used in building construction to the cultivation and processing of feedstuffs. Historically the availability of fossil fuels has minimized pressure to critically consider all uses of energy in pig production. Rising energy prices, uncertain access to petroleum supplies, and recognition of the environmental impacts of fossil fuel use are increasing awareness and incentive to reduce the use of limited energy resources. Comprehensive, accurate information is critical to informed decision making. Analysis of energy use by modern pig farms in Iowa, the region, and the United States is lacking. This project will quantify energy use in the construction and operation of two types of pig production systems in Iowa— the more prevalent confinement system characterized by slatted concrete floors and liquid manure management and an alternative, a deep-bedded hoop barn based system. In addition to buildings and equipment, a comprehensive model of pig production includes production and processing of feed ingredients and nutrient management of both crop and livestock sectors. Multiple cropping/feed ingredient scenarios will be considered and evaluated in terms of energy use, nutrient cycling, and ecological impact for each housing option.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will quantify energy use by several pig production systems in Iowa using process analysis techniques. Energy embedded in the manufacture and construction of different types of pig facilities and equipment commonly used in Iowa will be determined. Energy use in operation and maintenance of different types of pig facilities for all phases of production will be compared. Energy embedded in the production of feed ingredients will be determined. Energy use, nutrient cycling, and ecological impact by different phases of pig production, under different facility and diet scenarios will be evaluated. Once collected this information will be communicated to producers, agricultural consultants, policy makers, and the general public through publication in appropriate academic journals, popular press releases, ISU Extension bulletins, and oral presentation at field days and meetings. Knowledge of energy use and nutrient cycling in pig production systems will enable pragmatic allocation of those resources to systems resulting in preferred outcomes. This project will contribute to individual producers’ ability to better prepare for a world with limited energy resources and greater penalties for negative ecological impacts. This project may influence policy towards a greater sustainability for the North Central Region and the nation.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.