Feed additive companies want to partner with their customers to help them meet the sustainability goals that society is demanding of them. But while farmers do indeed need science-tested solutions, they also have another deeply critical need – they need to be able to demonstrate to the wider world how much progress is being made. This is important not just for the social license to produce, but also for ensuring durable financing for those improvements using tools such as carbon credits – after all, you cannot sell a carbon credit without quantifying what is behind it.
Sensitive to this latter need, Phileo by Lesaffre has gone through the extensive effort of carrying out a life cycle assessment (LCA) for its flagship product, Actisaf® Sc 47, for dairy cattle. The LCA measures the impact of Actisaf®'s production and use on several different sustainability metrics, including carbon intensity, nutrient pollution, and the use of scarce resources such as land or water. Today, we hear from Gildas Joalland, the company’s global marketing director, about why this work was a priority for Phileo by Lesaffre and what it demonstrates about the value that Actisaf® can provide for farmers and for the world.
[Feedinfo] Why was it important for Phileo to carry out an LCA for Actisaf® Sc 47? What makes this a momentous step? What can it provide for your customers that the existing scientific literature on this product did not?
[Gildas Joalland] So of course, Actisaf® is used in dairy for a number of reasons: to improve rumen health, and thus, feed efficiency; to maximise animal growth, fertility , well-being and performance by enhancing fiber digestibility; to increase milk yield and milk solids and to provide a better metabolic balance and prevention of acidosis.
As Phileo has been positioning Actisaf® as the gold standard for yeast probiotics for more than 30 years, we have published a lot on it, including advanced research based on large worldwide trials, as well as innovative data about the product; for example, in early September 2023, we performed a meta-analysis on milk yield and energy-corrected milk (ECM). We also offer the Digescan™ service to our customers, making visible and helping easily measure the feed efficiency improvements it can provide. Research using Digescan™ has demonstrated a 35% decrease in fiber particles larger than 5mm in the manure of dairy animals fed Actisaf®, illustrating its impact on fibre degradation .
Now, backed up with the strong scientific evidence we have built up over the years, we have gone further, carrying out a full scope life cycle assessment (LCA) of Actisaf® Sc 47, from production at the factory to use on the farm, to prove the environmental benefits of its use, beyond the production and feed efficiency benefits we have already documented so thoroughly.
[Feedinfo] You have recently completed the first complete LCA of Actisaf® Sc 47 in dairy cows. Tell me about that process: what kinds of trials were involved? Where were they carried out, and in what kind of production systems? How long did the entire process take?
[Gildas Joalland] A life cycle assessment is a well-recognized methodology to assess the environmental benefits of our solution in the context of resource scarcity. We performed a full scope LCA (factory + farm).
For the farm study, we chose to work with the international leader in LCA — the Dutch company Blonk — and followed the product environmental footprint category rules (PEFCR) for dairy products (link) and animal feed (link), the FAO’s Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) guidelines for feed additives (link), and the ISO 14040/44 standards (ISO 14040 describes the principles and framework for LCA while ISO 14044 specifies requirements and provides guidelines for LCA). 
As for the process, to assess the environmental impact of 1kg of FPCM (fat and protein corrected milk), we used recent EU zootechnical trials for this study. We looked at different standard European diets and covered high/medium production cows from transition to mid lactation. The production systems these trials took place in make up about 50% of the EU’s milk production (Germany 22%, France 17%, UK around 10%).
In the study, a comparison was done between a basal diet without any kind of feed additive supplementation and a diet including Actisaf®.
The different steps, carried out over a period of more than 18 months, included:
• Data collection with primary data on Actisaf® supplementation making up the inventory step of the LCA.
We also used secondary data from different databases, including agri footprint 5.0 and Ecoinvent 3.6.
• A multi-criteria analysis and iterative process: all the data were integrated into the most advanced software in LCA SIMAPRO + Blonk software APS-footprint dairy module, which simulated one year of farm operations. This meant we got conclusions on the different impact categories, with an extrapolation of trial data to annual farm level.
• After the Blonk report, we decided to pursue a critical review process with a panel of international LCA experts, in order to get a report compliant with ISO 14040/44. This additional step has meant going even further and opening up our findings to more questions, feedback, and comments, ultimately strengthening the conclusions.
Actisaf® sc47 is the first yeast probiotic in EU that can bring to the customers the evidence of environmental benefits and not only on carbon footprint reduction (climate change reduction in kg CO2 eq), but also on the very important but entirely different metrics of acidification, eutrophication (freshwater, marine and terrestrial), land use, water use, and other resource use.
[Feedinfo] What were the results of the LCA? What did it find in terms of feed efficiency? And what does that translate into when it comes to land use, water use, or fossil fuel use? What about methane production intensity?
[Gildas Joalland] Based on the study we can say that adding Actisaf® in the diet at the recommended dosage can reduce the carbon footprint by up to 5%, and this is linked to feed efficiency.
This can be illustrated with an example from a European farm:
• 65 dairy cows
• 9000 kg of milk annually per cow.
• 23 tonnes of CO2 eq less (based on the report, taking a 2.9% average reduction for a one-year period: 360kg CO2 saved/cow/year).
By way of comparison, that is roughly as much as taking 17 new cars off of EU roads for a year (based on an estimate of 1,320 kgs CO2 per car, or the amount the average newly-registered passenger car would generate driving the EU average of 12,000 kilometers per year). 
In EU there are about 20 million milking production cows; we can therefore extrapolate potential savings of 6.08 million tonnes of CO2 eq / year for the EU herds to produce the same amount of milk (considering the EU average of 7,600 kg of annual milk production per cow).
[Feedinfo] Meanwhile, I gather the LCA also quantified improvements in eutrophication and acidification. If I’m not mistaken, that would be due not to Actisaf® Sc47’s improvement of feed efficiency, but to its impacts on nitrogen digestion, correct? Can you explain that mechanism, and how much of an impact it was found to have on eutrophication and acidification, two processes which can seriously disrupt ecosystems?
[Gildas Joalland] Indeed, the combat goes beyond climate change. A better proteic efficiency can reduce the ammonia rate, and thus other effects on the environment. Based on the LCA report, Actisaf® can provide an average of 7.3% reduction of on farm ammonia (N2O).
Other environmental impact categories show a similar reduction in scope as that observed for the carbon footprint. This shows that Actisaf® supplementation does not cause any increase in other impacts which are harmful to the environment.
In our study, acidification decreased mainly due to lower ammonia emissions, resulting from less cultivation of animal feed and fewer on-farm emissions with better proteic efficacy. Likewise, marine, freshwater and terrestrial eutrophication impacts decreased due to lower P and N emissions resulting from reduced cultivation of animal feed.
Similarly, land use related impact decreased due to the use of less land to cultivate animal feed.
In conclusion, thanks to the improvement feed efficiency, the impact of dairy farming on all of these different environmental metrics is improved as well.
[Feedinfo] Will you be carrying out LCAs for any other products in your portfolio? What is driving that decision?
[Gildas Joalland] Phileo is really engaged in sustainability with tangible actions. We firmly believe that in the future, taking care of the environment will be a production objective as important as health and profitability.
Actisaf® sc47 is the reference probiotic for a future-proofed dairy industry. And, while it was an important first step, I should point out that we also performed another LCA on beef cattle showing similar results, with 5% reduction of the carbon footprint of meat when fed during fattening period.
So this work is just the beginning; we will assess other species and other solutions.
Published in association with Phileo by Lesaffre
 Julien, Christine & Briche, Maxime & Legendre, Héloïse & Delcloy, Vincent & Heumez, Gérard. (2018). Field Study of the Impact of Supplementation with Probiotic Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sc47-CNCM I-4407) on Reproductive Performance in Dairy Cows. Agricultural Sciences. 09. 1664-1676. 10.4236/as.2018.912116.
 Nizar, Salah & Legendre, Héloïse & Faivre, Laurine & Briche, Maxime & Gourdon, Raphael & Nenov, Valentin. (2023). Evaluating Fecal Sieving Tool as an Indicator of Feed Valorization and the Impact of Feeding Strategy on Dairy Cow Performance under Farm Conditions. Agricultural Sciences. 14. 1420-1435. 10.4236/as.2023.1410093.
 European Commission 2018b, 2018a, 2021; FAO, 2019; ISO, 2006a, 2006b.