Recycling nutrients in the beef supply chain through circular manuresheds: Data to assess tradeoffs

TitleRecycling nutrients in the beef supply chain through circular manuresheds: Data to assess tradeoffs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsSpiegal S., Vendramini JMB, Bittman S., Silveira M, Gifford C, Rotz C.A, Ragosta JP, Kleinman PJA
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Date Published5/14/2022
ARIS Log Number394154
Keywordsbeef supply chains, Manuresheds, Nutrient circularity, Recycling, Supply chain management

Nutrient circularity can help supply chain managers meet sustainability goals. Across the segmented beef supply chain, opportunity exists to reinforce and introduce nutrient circularity by recycling surplus manure nutrients from feedlots to feed-producing lands. We describe four datasets developed to evaluate options in U.S. and Canadian beef systems. The datasets delineate three “circular manuresheds”, each encompassing a hay-grazing landscape where beef cattle are raised on grazingland with hay grown nearby, and the distant feedlots where those cattle produce manure nutrients for potential import back to the hayfields. We selected the hay-grazing landscapes of New Mexico, USA; Florida, USA; and western Canada (the assemblage of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia) because of their significant grazingland production and potential to substitute feedlot manure for commercial fertilizer on hayfields. In each circular manureshed, the manure nutrients from major feedlot destinations could supply a considerable proportion of the P used by hay for grazing cattle: 34% of the P requirements in New Mexico; 36% in Florida, and 6% in western Canada. The average distance to return the resource was 647 km for New Mexico, 1884 km for Florida, and 1587 km for western Canada. These magnitudes and distances suggest that the New Mexico circular manureshed may be the most economically viable in the current agri-food system, but this reflects only part of a greater assessment of tradeoffs. The circular manureshed concept provides a platform for simultaneous consideration of competing factors for sustainability via circularity.