Research from Teagasc shows that replacing soya with Irish-grown beans in pig diets can reduce the carbon footprint per kg of meat by 30% without impacting animal performance.

Peadar Lawlor of Teagasc was speaking at a conference hosted by Adesco on Tuesday and stated that this reduction came with a 40% inclusion rate of beans in the diet, but added that beans have anti-nutritional factors and further research has shown that 25-30% is probably a more realistic inclusion rate.

“Native-grown field beans can replace some of the soya bean in pig diets, we need to set upper limits particularly if we don’t know the anti-nutritional factors. If these are low you may be able to rise inclusion levels to 30%,” he commented.

“You’re offsetting an imported bean with a native-grown field bean. That doesn’t surprise me at all. The bulk [of carbon emissions] is coming in your soya."

Lawlor outlined that approximately 700,000t of soya were imported into Ireland in 2020, the majority was from Argentina was used in pig and poultry diets. If Ireland meets its target to grow 20,000ha of protein by 2027 then it will produce 100,000t at a crude protein content of approximately 30%.