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Workshop on the environmental impacts of livestock farming in Saxony-Anhalt

11 December 2017 - From 29 November to 1 December 2017 Dr. Florian Schierhorn of the IAMO conducted a postdoc workshop on the subject “The Environmental Impacts of Livestock Products” in Halle (Saale), Germany, in co-operation with the Leibniz Research Alliance “Sustainable Food Production and Healthy Nutrition” and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

Global livestock production is one of the key factors in climate change, the exhausting of natural resources and loss of biodiversity. For a number of years now life-cycle assessments (LCA) have been calculated in order to investigate the environmental effects of agriculture in general and livestock production in particular. The focus of the studies is upon the comparison of the environmental effects of conventional agricultural practices compared to organic ones. One central motivation for the staging of this workshop was that the studies conducted thus far have frequently delivered contradictory and in part surprising results. The main goal of the workshop is therefore to investigate whether life cycle assessments in the field of livestock production can be improved.

On the first day of the workshop Dr. Ulrich Schumacher (Bioland e.V.) provided an overview of ecological milk production in Germany. Following this, Dr. Matthias Meier (Fibl) talked about life cycle assessment and presented the methodological weaknesses of completed studies. Simone Kraatz (ATB) then spoke specifically about life cycle assessment in livestock production. In conclusion, the participants were given a detailed introduction to OpenLCA software, which is often employed for life cycle assessment. On the second day the researchers visited two dairy farms in Saxony-Anhalt, to study detailed operational processes. The farm visits served to provide an overview of the operational data available for life cycle assessment. On the final day of the event the participants discussed the findings of the multi-day workshop. In addition, specific research questions and a specific work plan were developed for the studies that are to build upon the workshop.

The workshop received financial support in the scope of the “Proteinparadoxa” co-operative project of the Leibniz Research Alliance “Sustainable Food Production and Healthy Nutrition”.