UBC Theses and Dissertations
An agroecological/foodshed study of the British Columbia poultry industry’s manure management practices : a case study of the sustainable poultry farming group Thomson, Marcia Helen
Since the beginning of the 1980s, British Columbia's poultry industry has grown rapidly and production has become concentrated in the Lower Fraser Valley region. Growth in the industry has led to a significant increase in the volume of manure waste generated. Concentration of the industry in a rapidly urbanizing area with a relatively small amount of cropland available for manure application has meant that ecologically sound manure disposal and storage has proven challenging. Recent research shows that poultry manure is the largest source of surplus manure-based nitrogen and phosphorus in the Fraser Valley. This surplus contributes to water, soil, and air pollution in the region. The industry-led Sustainable Poultry Farming Group (SPFG) has attempted to deal with the manure problem by redistributing it from areas of intensive poultry production to areas with potential nutrient deficits. Despite a decade of redistributing poultry manure within the Fraser Valley and to the Interior, the SPFG does not seem to be able to "get ahead" of the problem. The industry continues to grow and concentrate in the Fraser Valley, producing increasing volumes of manure. One of the central goals of this thesis was to articulate an interpretive framework for agri-food systems to study the SPFG's manure management strategy. The framework compares and contrasts the dominant socio-economic paradigm for sustainable agri-food systems, which is referred to in this study as Industrial Agriculture in the Global Supermarket, with an alternative vision, Agroecology and Foodshed. A substantial body of literature, and primary qualitative research conducted for this study suggests that movement away from growth-oriented, industrial agri-food systems and towards more localized agri-food systems that are designed according to Agroecological and Foodshed principles may improve prospects for sustainability. This thesis concludes that the current manure management strategy employed by the SPFG is not sustainable. It is, at best, at the very beginning stages of a transition to more sustainable manure management. From the Agroecological/Foodshed perspective the poultry industry's manure management problem is viewed as a problem inherent to our highly industrialized agri-food systems, and not simply as a waste management problem. Therefore, a long-term solution to the problem requires a shift towards an alternative strategy that incorporates ecological, social and economic dimensions of sustainability.
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