Valio looks to environmental progress with contest and soy feed reduction

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Valio said it is creating a 'soy-free milk production chain.'
Valio said it is creating a 'soy-free milk production chain.'
Finnish dairy company Valio invited teams from around the world to enter a hackathon competition to find ways of making use of the methane cows produce, and to reduce methane emissions.

The company said it is also taking a step towards more environmentally friendly milk production by entirely discontinuing the use of soy in feed for cattle and young cattle.

Hackathon event

Finnish dairy farms have reduced their methane emissions by nearly 50% in the past 25 years, mostly thanks to selective breeding, however, an estimated 2.5% of Finnish greenhouse gas emissions come from dairy production.

valio hackathon
The winning team: Methanovores.

Seven teams competed in the hackathon, held in February at Valio’s Research & Development Center in Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki, which received applications from 28 teams around the world.

The winners, Methanovores, collected methane from indoor air and used it on-site.

Methanovores was made up of members from the Natural Resources Institute and the Technical Research Centre: Tapani Kivinen, Ismo Heimonen, Cyril Bajamundi, Juha-Pekka Pitkänen and Leo Ojala.

Quick implementation

One of the judges, Valio’s Mika Koskinen, said, “Some of the entries were quick to implement, and some required additional work. In choosing our winner, we focused on a solution that could be implemented quickly and without too much additional work.

“By combining the best parts of various entries, we may be able to find more solutions to reduce methane emissions and to make use of existing gas.”

Reduction in soy

As a part of Valio’s responsibility program, the company is also creating a ‘soy-free milk production chain,’ which it says helps with exports as an increasing number of customers expect dairy companies to actively reduce the environmental impacts of dairy products.

From March 1, 2018, Valio dairy farms will discontinue the use of soy in cattle and young cattle feed.

A one-year transition period will ensure dairy farmers can use up any soy-containing feed already in stock or that has already been ordered.

Juha Nousiainen, director of farm services at Valio, said soy is the most important protein feed for animals globally, and is the most important source of plant protein for people.

“Part of Valio’s responsibility approach includes that we don’t feed animals food that is suitable for human consumption,”​ Nousiainen said.

Valio said studies indicate in grass silage-based feeding, rapeseed is a better supplementary protein feed for dairy cattle than soy.

Related topics: R&D, Fresh Milk, Sustainability

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