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Journal Article

Decoupling livestock from land use through industrial feed production pathways


Pikaar,  I.
External Organizations;

Matassa,  S.
External Organizations;


Bodirsky,  Benjamin Leon
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Weindl,  Isabelle
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Humpenöder,  Florian
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Rabaey,  K.
External Organizations;

Boon,  N.
External Organizations;

Bruschi,  M.
External Organizations;

Yuan,  Z.
External Organizations;

Zanten,  H. van
External Organizations;

Herrero,  M.
External Organizations;

Verstraete,  E.
External Organizations;


Popp,  Alexander
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Pikaar, I., Matassa, S., Bodirsky, B. L., Weindl, I., Humpenöder, F., Rabaey, K., Boon, N., Bruschi, M., Yuan, Z., Zanten, H. v., Herrero, M., Verstraete, E., Popp, A. (2018): Decoupling livestock from land use through industrial feed production pathways. - Environmental Science and Technology, 52, 13, 7351-7359.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_22913
One of the main challenges for the 21st century is to balance the increasing demand for high-quality proteins while mitigating environmental impacts. In particular, cropland-based production of protein-rich animal feed for livestock rearing results in large-scale agricultural land-expansion, nitrogen pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Here we propose and analyze the long-term potential of alternative animal feed supply routes based on industrial production of microbial proteins (MP). Our analysis reveals that by 2050, MP can replace, depending on socio-economic development and MP production pathways, between 10–19% of conventional crop-based animal feed protein demand. As a result, global cropland area, global nitrogen losses from croplands and agricultural greenhouse gas emissions can be decreased by 6% (0–13%), 8% (−3–8%), and 7% (−6–9%), respectively. Interestingly, the technology to industrially produce MP at competitive costs is directly accessible for implementation and has the potential to cause a major structural change in the agro-food system.