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Foods 2015, 4(4), 622-644; doi:10.3390/foods4040622

Increased Foraging in Outdoor Organic Pig Production—Modeling Environmental Consequences

Department of Agroecology, Faculty of Science and Technology, Blichers Allé 20, Aarhus University, P.O. Box 50, Tjele DK-8830, Denmark
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Lucy van de Vijver
Received: 8 July 2015 / Revised: 1 October 2015 / Accepted: 10 October 2015 / Published: 2 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic food: what about the nutritional value and food safety?)
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Abstract

Consumers’ motivations for buying organic products include a wish of acquiring healthy, environmentally friendly products from production systems that also ensure a high level of animal welfare. However, the current Danish organic pig production faces important challenges regarding environmental impact of the system. High ammonia emissions arise from outdoor concrete areas with growing pigs and sows on pasture possess an increased risk of nitrogen (N) leaching. Direct foraging in the range area is suggested as a way to improve the nutrient efficiency at farm level and to support a more natural behavior of the pig. Thus, by modeling, we investigated the environmental consequences of two alternative scenarios with growing pigs foraging in the range area and different levels of crops available for foraging—grass–clover or a combination of Jerusalem artichokes and lucerne. It was possible to have growing pigs on free-range without increasing N leaching compared to the current practice. The alternative system with Jerusalem artichokes and lucerne (high integration of forage) showed the lowest carbon foot print with 3.12 CO2 eq kg−1 live weight pig compared to the current Danish pasture based system with 3.69 kg CO2 eq kg−1 live weight pig. Due to positive impact on soil carbon sequestration, the second alternative system based on grass-clover (low integration of forage) showed a similar carbon foot print compared to current practice with 3.68 kg CO2 eq kg−1 live weight pig. It is concluded that in practice there is room for development of organic farming systems where direct foraging plays a central role. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic; pig production; foraging; nitrogen balance; greenhouse gas emission; carbon footprint; soil carbon emission; Indirect Land Use Change organic; pig production; foraging; nitrogen balance; greenhouse gas emission; carbon footprint; soil carbon emission; Indirect Land Use Change
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Jakobsen, M.; Preda, T.; Kongsted, A.G.; Hermansen, J.E. Increased Foraging in Outdoor Organic Pig Production—Modeling Environmental Consequences. Foods 2015, 4, 622-644.

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