Integrated assessment of manure transport induced by European environmental regulations: a life cycle approach for liquid pig manure in Germany

Kuhn, T. 1, Kokemohr, L. 1

1 Institute of Food and Resource Economics, Bonn University, Nußallee 21, 53115 Bonn, Germany,,


Concentration of livestock production at the farm and regional level decouples nutrient cycles between animal and plant production. Export of excess manure from livestock to crop farming systems closes cycles without structural change of the production system. In the EU, manure transport is triggered by command and control regulations under EU environmental law. We apply a life cycle approach to assess the environmental impact of raw liquid pig manure transport in northwest Germany. Transport is caused by the proposed revision of the German National Action program implementing the EU Nitrates directive. Results indicate that manure transport decreased NH3, N2O, NOx, NO3 emissions and P surplus compared to a baseline without transport. Reduction of GHG emissions from replaced mineral fertilizer outweighed transport emissions. When exporting farms do not need to replace exported organic nutrients with mineral fertilizer, there is even a reduction in GHG emissions. Despite emission reductions in total, manure importing farms increased NH3 and NO3 losses, caused by higher emissions from manure application and lower efficiency of organic N compared to mineral fertilizers. Results illustrate the potential of manure transport as a short-term solution to reduce environmental burdens caused by livestock concentration. However, additional regulations are needed to prevent negative impacts of regional pollution swapping.