IDF 2015 - Update 7

Published 24 September 15

Jon Parry, AHDB Dairy head of extension, reports back from the last day at the IDF. 

In the first session of the day environmental sustainability along the dairy supply chain, Professor Mao Xueying from China Agricultural University outlined the approaches and work currently undertaken in China. These include installation of bio gas plants on the larger farms, and national summits bringing together the 20 largest dairy processors and producers to work collaboratively. 

Erin Kathleen Fitzgerald from Global Sustainability Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy talked about a program in the US linking environmental schemes for dairy production to human health topics. She explained that if food waste was a country, it would be the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the USA and China. Work targeted from 'Fork to Farm' aiming to get consumers to help farmers meet the environmental challenge. 

Helen Dornom from Dairy Australia highlighted the cross industry approach taken in Australia, working collaborative with farmers and processors to improve the sustainability of dairy. The framework has some very specific farmer targets eg reducing fertiliser use whilst maintaining milk output.               

Jean Baptiste Dolle from The French Livestock Institute (IDELE) then highlighted a project in France to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of milk production on 4,000 farms. The target is to reduce the footprint from the current average level of 1.0kg of CO2 per l of milk to 0.8 by 2025. The goal is realistic, as there are farms in the sample that already achieving this. These farms will be used as demonstrator venues to show other farmers what approaches they can take. 

In the second Sustainability in dairy turning science into practice Ernesto Reyes from agri benchmark (Germany) talked about Silvopastural systems in Columbia, dual cropping trees and pasture. He stressed the production system was intensive and the output data was bench marked by German institute. Silvopasture produces more biomass per hectare but also produces more milk per ha and benefits biodiversity. 

Brian Lindsay from Global Dairy Agenda for Action in the UK explained the role of the global dairy agenda for action and how partner organisations were contributing to the data. 

Professor Bruno Stefanon from University of Udine in Italy highlighted the potential use of bio-markers in milk to help better understand cow performance and therefore environmental impact. He referred to work by Professor Garnsworthy at Nottingham. Fatty acids in milk may be a good proxy for methane production by the cow.    

Dr Roger Candy working for Elanco in USA gave a presentation on the "dilution of maintenance' and how it helped to reduce the environmental footprint of milk" He advocated spreading the "fixed costs of staying alive across a greater level of production" He explained that a cow producing 8 l/day used 73% of its energy dietary energy for maintenance, whilst the same cow producing 12 l/day only used 62% for maintenance.