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Methods for assessing the environmental impact of livestock systems

Image by Stijn te Strake

Coordinator : Prof. Andrea Vitali

Members : Alberto Stanislao Atzori, Luciana Bava, Marco Berton, Davide Biagini, Sara Carè, Mirco Corazzin, Raffaella Finocchiaro, Giulia Gislon, Giampiero Grossi, Lydia Lanzoni, Alberto Mantino, Riccardo Negrini, Giacomo Pirlo, Angela Salzano


  1. To combine the skills present within ASPA on issues related to the estimation, determination and evaluation of the environmental impacts of livestock systems and, where necessary, identify external interlocutors to be involved in supporting the work of the Commission;

  2. To carry out a critical analysis of the reference bibliography;

  3. To provide elements of clarity in the application of the models available for the calculation of environmental indicators;

  4. To organize training and information events;

  5. To create guidelines to support the evaluation of the main environmental indicators applied to livestock production.

State of the art and reasons justifying the activation of the Study Commission:


Livestock systems have been under media attack for some time now. In recent years the agricultural sector, and in particular the livestock sector, has often been identified, with an approach that is often ideological and not supported by scientific evidence, as one of the main causes of global warming, environmental pollution in the broadest sense and of water and land consumption. Our Association has addressed and continues to address these issues with scientific rigor and is also strongly committed to disseminate correct information to public opinion and decision-making bodies. However, to date there is still some confusion in the application of methods and procedures for the estimate/determination/evaluation of the impact that the livestock system has on the environment in general, on the climate and on the use of resources. The Association has always played an important role on occasions when the standardization of analytical methods has become necessary such as, for example, in the analysis of livestock feed, milk and metabolic profiles. At this moment it is therefore considered essential that ASPA starts a critical discussion internally on the methodologies and procedures for estimating, determining and evaluating the environmental impacts of livestock systems to arrive at the adoption of standardized procedures shared by its community.


Activities of the Study Commission:

Through periodic meetings, the commission's activity will be aimed at comparing the state of the art of the main calculation models adopted for the evaluation of environmental indicators applied to livestock systems. In particular, we believe it is necessary to provide elements of clarity, among others, on the scientific and technical evaluation methodologies of the applications available for the determination of the carbon footprint and nitrogen emissions and releases and the water footprint. Following this comparison, guidelines will be defined that can support the calculation of the environmental indicators of the main livestock supply chains. Finally, the commission's activity will also be aimed at the organisation/participation of training events (summer schools, seminars, etc.), information events (webinars, social media, conferences) and the drafting of reviews.

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