Greener dairy cow drive going global to aid national breakthroughs

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cattle

US researchers are taking an increasingly global approach in meeting national commitments to cut down on the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by dairy farming to aid an industry push for greener practices.

Dairy Management Inc (DMI) insists it is encompassing global research into how areas like feed may play a vital role in meeting national commitments to cut GHG emission from dairy production by about 25 percent up to 2020.

The group, which aims to support industry-wide research and innovation, said a number of different projects were being looked at by experts from the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand and Australia.

“There is some interesting information coming out of Europe on the role of garlic in cutting cow flatulence,” said​ Rick Naczi, who​ heads the sustainability initiative arm at the US dairy Innovation Center. “We are looking at research being done on other additives such as legumes, yeast, fish oil, and enzymes that facilitate digestion and decrease the amount of enteric methane produced by dairy cows.”

Along with working with other international groups like the research forum Livestock Emissions and Abatement Research Network (LEARN) in New Zealand, larger multinational companies like Danone’s Stoneyfield farm are also being consulted, according to Naczi.

Stoneyfield, which make organic products like yoghurt, was currently looking at research into the benefits of fish oil in the diet of cows to cut methane.

“While even a small improvement in feed efficiency could reduce dairy’s fluid milk carbon footprint and potentially lower operating costs for the dairy producer,”​ said DMI.

Naczi said that the importance of reducing GHG output such as methane from agricultural dairy production was already being highlighted by industry-wide support for initiatives, with about 500 different stakeholders committed to schemes.

DMI said that ongoing commitments from all parties in the dairy supply chain were vital to pushing ahead with potentially greener initiatives and making them commercially viable. The group said that these commitments had to include processors and farmers, as well as universities, financial institutions, government and NGOs.

“So far, a variety of businesses and organizations have contributed nearly $10m (€7.6m) in both ​cash and in-kind donations to help the industry reach its goals,” said Naczi. “The funding will grow as the Innovation Center continues to look for partners in this long-term sustainability initiative.”

The first part of this report can be found here​.

Related topics Markets Sustainability

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