In the ongoing debate about food security for a growing global population, animal feed has become a critical topic. Future priorities will focus on feedstuffs that do not compete directly with human food. Efficient feed management can help livestock farmers reduce the land needed for feed cultivation. Alternative protein sources that can replace conventional feedstuffs like rapeseed and soya are becoming more attractive. This topic will be explored in depth at EuroTier 2024.

Decreasing Arable Land Per Person

The amount of arable land per person worldwide is rapidly decreasing. In 1970, about 3,800 square meters were available per person for four billion people. By 2023, this had dropped to 1,800 square meters, despite serving twice as many people. This trend is driven by a growing population and increased meat consumption due to rising incomes, leading to more livestock and higher land demands for animal husbandry.

Reducing Food Competition Between Humans and Animals

To ensure long-term food sustainability, efficient resource use and alternative food sources are essential. Currently, farm animals consume about a third of the world's grain harvest and over 80% of soybean production. Strategies to reduce food competition include:

  1. Prioritizing biomass use: first for humans, then directly for animals, and lastly in biomass tanks.
  2. Using biomass that humans cannot consume to feed livestock.
  3. Controlling biomass flow to maximize feed harvest and minimize losses, reducing the land needed for fodder crops.
  4. Exploring alternative protein sources like insects and algae, which have low land requirements.

Utilizing Non-Edible Biomass for Animal Feed

Most agricultural biomass is not edible for humans. Using such biomass for livestock feed can produce almost the same amount of food from the same land without competing with human food. Ruminants, in particular, can break down complex carbohydrates inedible to humans and other monogastric animals, like pigs and poultry, making them crucial in this context.

Minimizing Field-to-Animal Feed Losses

Reducing feed losses from field to animal is essential but challenging. Cattle farmers can take active measures to reduce these losses. Dry matter losses can reach up to 30% or more from field to animal. Farmers should measure their crop yields and losses to minimize these, which can significantly impact the economic and environmental efficiency of feed production.

Alternative Protein Sources

Alternative protein sources for animal feed, such as insects and algae, are gaining attention. Insects, rich in protein and fat, have been authorized as supplementary feed for pigs and poultry since August 2021. However, questions about their feed quality and production efficiency remain. Algae, both microalgae and macroalgae, offer potential but are currently unsuitable for large-scale animal feed use due to digestibility issues and the presence of undesirable substances.

EuroTier 2024: Leading Innovation in Animal Feed

To avoid food competition due to scarce arable land, agricultural production must become more sustainable. Using biomass unsuitable for human consumption more intensively for livestock and improving on-farm feed management are key strategies. Alternative protein sources like insects and algae hold promise but require further research. EuroTier 2024 will showcase innovative feed and processes from leading companies and startups, demonstrating responsible livestock feeding solutions.