A new live swine carbon footprint calculator offers pork producers an innovative way to measure the carbon footprint on their operations and what areas to consider for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The digital tool, available free to U.S. pork producers, was introduced at last week’s World Pork Expo in Des Moines.

The National Pork Board worked closely with the University of Arkansas to develop the software product. Pork producers enter information into the calculator such as location, feeding programs, manure storage methods, number of animals as well as barn size and insulation parameters plus other information.

“The tool is a computer program on a CD, so pork producers can put it on their home computer and run the program in the privacy of their own home,” says Rick Ulrich, University of Arkansas Department of Chemical Engineering, programmer for the calculator. “The tool shows producers where greenhouse gases are produced on their operations and the areas that are priorities in reducing emissions.”

Watch the video here.

The calculator provides options for both sow barns as well as grow-finish barns. Ulrich stresses the need for feedback from producers as the calculator is used on production operations.

“The carbon footprint calculator can help producers estimate the greenhouse gas emissions at their operation based on their existing production parameters, and highlights areas with potential for improving efficiency,” says Allan Stokes, director, environmental programs, National Pork Board. “It can be used to aid producers in making farm specific evaluations and decisions.”

The calculator is not intended to tell producers what to do but simply a tool to help them understand how to be more efficient with feed, manure storage, gas and electricity. Information and recommendations generated by the calculator are private and for use only by the producer.

An area on most pork operations where emissions can be reduced is manure storage. In pork production, greenhouse gases primarily arise from decomposition of manure plus normal animal respiration. The three gases of primary concern in pork production are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.  

For many producers, another important area to consider for further reduction of an operation’s carbon footprint is feed efficiency. “The better you are at converting feed grains to pounds of pork, the lower carbon footprint you are going to have,” says Randy Spronk, a farrow-to-finish pork producer from Edgerton, Minn., who serves on the National Pork Board's Environmental Committee. The information is not shared with or saved by NPB or others.

To get your free copy of the Live Swine Carbon Footprint Calculator, go to www.pork.org/sustainability or call (800) 456-7675 to request your copy. Producers are asked to provide their mailing address and some additional information to get the DVD as well as future updates.