Research of the Animal Production Systems Group

Unravelling the complexity of concerns about various livestock systems, and exploring trade-offs and synergies of innovations to design a more sustainable future

Livestock systems are heterogeneous across the world, and therefore sustainability concerns differ across systems (see table). A SINGLE solution to improve sustainability does NOT exist; we need different solutions for different situations.

Major sustainability concerns in various livestock systems
System Concerns
Intensive-landless* e.g. pig & broilers production systems Animal welfare, manure surplus, deforestation, food safety, human health
Intensive crop-livestock e.g. Dutch dairy production Methane & nitrous oxide emissions, animal welfare, eutrophication, acidification
Extensive crop-livestock e.g. smallholders Livelihoods, land degradation, emissions of greenhouse gases
Grass-based e.g. pastoralists, extensive beef production Land degradation, impact biodiversity, greenhouse gases, overgrazing

* Intensive implies a high animal production per unit of labour, land and capital

For various livestock systems we unravel the complexity of concerns and explore trade-offs and synergies of innovations regarding environmental impact, animal welfare, economic viability to design a more sustainable future. Our systems analysis is based on a life cycle approach. This implies that you not only look at, for example, use of resources, emissions of pollutants or animal welfare at the farm level, but also consider preceding stages (e.g. production of animal feed or artificial fertilizer) or post-farm stages (slaughtering of animals or milk processing) in your analysis

The Animal Production Systems Group is embedded in WaCASA (Wageningen Centre for Agroecology and Systems Analysis, This research cluster aims at integrating crop and livestock production at regional levels, to design sustainable agricultural regions