The aim of the pilot project is to reduce the footprint of a farm to net-zero emissions. Over a period of three years, Nestlé Germany will support a dairy farm run by its long-standing supplier Hochwald, which supplies, among other things, the mozzarella cheese for Nestlé Wagner pizzas.
The Frese family's farm in northern Hesse has 135 cows and is to become a model for other farmers. The project is led by the Nürtingen-Geislingen University of Applied Sciences (HfWU), with scientific and technical advice from the project partners Thünen Institute for Business Administration and the Lake Constance Foundation.
Initially, HfWU will calculate all the emissions from the farm. This is followed by around 30 defined measures to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible. This means, for example, optimal feeding of the cows, gas-tight manure storage, construction of a biogas plant, energy generation through photovoltaic systems and optimized herd management of the cows, which ensures an increased milk yield. At the same time, more humus is built up through regenerative management of the arable land and grassland, and hedges and trees are planted so more greenhouse gases can be stored. In the process, the climate dairy farm also reduces use of pesticides and mineral fertilizers.
The aim is to get the farm's emissions in the pilot project to net zero in the model after three to five years. Prof. Dr Markus Frank, Professor of Plant Health Management at HfWU, said, "Of course, it takes decades for hedges and trees to grow really tall and for the soil to build up enough humus. In our joint project, we are therefore modelling how much CO2 the plants and the soil can really store."
Noura Rhemouga, sustainability manager at Hochwald, said, "One kilogram of milk currently causes about 1.1 kilograms of CO2. We want to reduce this CO2 footprint of our milk products in the coming years. To do this, we need to know exactly which measures make ecological and economic sense. Our joint pilot project with the Frese family helps us to gain valuable insights into how we can sustainably reduce greenhouse gases."
Farmer Mario Frese is convinced that his farm can become a role model for other farmers.
Frese said, "The project focuses on the sustainability of our farm. Our goal is to know within three years where the most emissions occur on our farm, how we can reduce them and, of course, what it will cost us. Then, with credible and scientifically sound data, we can show what modern dairy production really looks like today."