Better farm management through integrated sustainability metrics
Trouw Nutrition – Nutreco’s livestock feed business line – has a 90-year history of developing innovative feed products and more sustainable ways of raising healthy farm animals. With a global presence and a team of 8,300 dedicated professionals, Trouw Nutrition is committed to translating science into actionable, practical, and sustainable nutrition and farm management solutions.
Trouw Nutrition strives to make swine production more environmentally friendly by helping their customers make science-based sustainability decisions. Various factors drive the urgency for sustainable decision-making:
- Social pressure around sustainable livestock farming
- Regulations on various emissions passed around the world
- Financial investors increasingly interested at the environmental performance of companies
The Watson model was already a valuable tool for pig farmers as an animal biology model. Due to its properties, it had great potential for integration with life cycle assessment (LCA). Predicting animal growth requires a wide variety of inputs (genetics, health, housing management, feed intake, farm management, etc.), and other data that is useful for conducting a life cycle assessment study. By enriching the existing information system, Trouw Nutrition wanted Watson to indicate the environmental impacts of different swine production choices, along with the economic and performance impacts.
In consultation with the subject-matter experts at Trouw Nutrition, a team of sustainability consultants from PRé developed an LCA model for the integration with Watson. The model is highly parameterized and linked to Watson, so farmers’ input is directly fed into the LCA model. The IT Development Team at Trouw Nutrition connected Watson to the SimaPro calculation engine using the SimaPro API (Application Programming Interface).
The cradle-to-gate LCA model includes processes up until the slaughterhouse: crop production for animal feed, feed processing, and animal and farm management decisions such as storage of manure. Methodologically robust, the model aligns with relevant methods such as the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for feed for food producing animals and uses data from the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI), Agri-footprint and ecoinvent.
With over 16,000 parameters, the LCA model built for integration with Watson is unique in its scale. The SimaPro API can handle real-time calculations with large amounts of data and high levels of automation. The produced results remain robust, reliable, and transparent.
With the introduction of a life cycle assessment component to Watson, Trouw Nutrition empowers swine farmers to make decisions that support animal performance, farm economics and the environment. The integration with SimaPro offers various benefits:
- Enhanced digital service for swine producers across the globe. The sustainability insights included in Watson give farmers the information they need to reduce their environmental impact while balancing performance and profit.
- Insights into a wide range of environmental metrics. Watson can now predict how changes to feed inputs and farm management can influence various environmental indicators such as climate change, eutrophication, acidification, land use, renewable resources, and water scarcity.
- Real-time results and high-volume capacity. The tool can handle thousands of requests per day and provide users with real-time calculations.
With Watson and Trouw Nutrition’s support, individual pig farms can discover which choices have the best environmental outcome for their specific situations. For instance, a farm could compare the amount of nitrogen emitted into the atmosphere from manure stored in an open lagoon to emissions from manure stored in a closed tank. Changing the approach to a closed tank could potentially reduce carbon output by 30%. Such valuable insights can help farmers make choices that optimize their day-to-day operations and benefit the environment.
At Nutreco, sustainability is at the core of what we do. Integrating SimaPro with our swine model Watson gave us the means to provide an LCA digital service specifically targeted to swine customers across the globe. This integration helps our clients to know how and where to implement changes to minimize their environmental footprint, without reducing performance or profit.
Digital Solutions Manager, Livestock BU North America at Nutreco / Trouw Nutrition