Amino Acids for Eco-Friendly Animal Feed

The UN estimates that the global population is increasing by about 80 million people each year. By the year 2050, nine billion people will need to be fed. The middle class will continue to grow, and with greater prosperity and urbanisation, food habits will change: meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs will become staples on many menus. How will all these people be adequately fed, and how will the increasing demand for meat be satisfied in the future?

Amino acids from Evonik Industries, used as animal feed additives, offer one solution: In addition to ensuring balanced animal nutrition, they also help protect the environment and save valuable resources.

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that global meat consumption will rise to 373 million metric tons by 2030 and to 465 metric tons by 2050. More meat means more livestock breeding and more animal feed – and therefore more arable land, higher consumption of energy and water, and correspondingly higher greenhouse gas emissions for cultivation and transport.

Long-term solutions consist of sustainably reducing resource consumption in agriculture while simultaneously increasing productivity. One key to this lies in animal feed and the protein building blocks they contain, known as amino acids. Corn, wheat, and soy meal, commonly used as feeds for poultry, pigs, and fish, however, have a serious shortcoming. They lack the amino acids methionine, lysine, and threonine. As a result, the animals need more feed because they cannot utilise it optimally. Accordingly, the animals produce more manure, which contaminates groundwater with nitrate and the air with ammonia. This shortage of amino acids can be compensated by a higher proportion of protein-rich feed components, such as fish meal or oilseed meal; alternatively, the feed can be enriched with the missing amino acids, produced specifically for this purpose.

Evonik has shown in life cycle assessments – from the production of the feeds and amino acids to the excretion of waste by the animals – that the latter is more sustainable. If the amino acid DL-methionine from Evonik is added to the feed, emission of ammonia is reduced by a factor of 26, of nitrate by a factor of 7, and of greenhouse gases by a factor of 23. Moreover, energy consumption is reduced by more than 80 percent. These effects result from the fact that the added amino acids utilise domestic wheat rather than imported soy seed as a source of nutrition. This, in turn, eliminates the energy-intensive processing of soy beans as well as imports from the main producer countries U.S., Brazil, and Argentina, where crops consume increasing amounts of farmland and frequently cause the destruction of rainforests in the process.

Photo credit: “iStock.com/folewu”. This article was originally published at German Innovation.

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