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Behind the Hype: GHG emissions from dairy farming explained - Karen Wonnacott (DairyCo)
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Behind the Hype: GHG emissions from dairy farming explained - Karen Wonnacott (DairyCo)


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This presentation formed part of the Farming Futures event 'Carbon & Farming - Putting Science into Practice'. …

This presentation formed part of the Farming Futures event 'Carbon & Farming - Putting Science into Practice'.

29th July 2010

Published in: Technology

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  • 1. Behind the hype: GHG emissions Research and from dairy farming explained Development Karen Wonnacott DairyCo R&D Manager Brian Lindsay 29 July 2010
  • 2. Outline • Background • Terminology • Targets • Why reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions? • Carbon footprinting • Benefits for dairy farmers • What is DairyCo doing?
  • 3. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) • Nitrous oxide (N20) – 300X more potent • Methane (CH4) – 20X more potent than CO2 • Carbon dioxide (CO2) – <1% in agriculture • Ammonia (NH3) – ‘indirect’ GHG
  • 4. The terminology • Carbon footprint – "the total set of GHG emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organisation, event or product" (UK Carbon Trust 2008) • Mitigation • Adaptation • Abatement • Carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) • Global Warming Potential (GWP) • GHG glossary available from the DairyCo website
  • 5. Targets in context • Kyoto Protocol 2012 – 12.5% reduction • UK Low Carbon Transition Plan 2008 – 11% reduction for agriculture in England – 3 Million tonnes* CO2equivalents (CO2e) • National inventory measurement – Currently crude – Does not detect actual practice on farm * DairyCo establishing start and endpoint
  • 6. GHG emissions & dairy farming • Agriculture contributes 7% of total UK GHG emissions • Dairy <2%† of total UK GHG emissions – Perception – Actual • CH4 and N2O emissions have fallen by 17% and 23% respectively since 1990 • More reductions are possible †DairyCo funded work carried out by North Wyke Research, part of Rothamsted Research
  • 7. Why reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from dairy farms? • Reduce energy consumption per unit of food produced – definite link with profit • More cost effective use of nutrients – Feeding the animal – Making the most of grass – Better use of manure and slurry • If industry demonstrates voluntary GHG reductions, may be less policy/legislative intervention • Demonstrating positive improvements to the general public
  • 8. What is a carbon footprint? • Cradle to grave, account for all inputs and outputs, traced back to primary source, e.g. • Milk production – Oil→fertiliser→chemicals→machinery→crops/ fodder→housing→feeds →cattle→milk cooling • Milk processing – Transport→processing→separation→pasteurisation →packing→retailer→consumer
  • 9. Components of a litre of milk Enteric emissions Microbial breakdown from the rumen of nitrate in soil both and manure organic and inorganic and 25% manure 45% Nitrous oxide Carbon dioxide 30% Methane Direct inputs: Diesel, electricity, chemicals, fertiliser etc.
  • 10. Anecdotal evidence on farm 1400 Almost 50% 1200 higher 1000 800 600 Total gCO2e/litre 400 200 0 Bottom 25% Average Top 25%
  • 11. Who should calculate your carbon footprint? • A lot of tools on the market • Increasing interest • Publically Available Specification 2050 (PAS 2050) explains how you carbon footprint for all products & services • Carbon Trust accredited • Milk buyer driven • Depends on your objective
  • 12. What do I get out of it? • A figure with which you can benchmark your farm in future years and benchmark between group members • Information on where you could reduce your carbon footprint • An understanding of how efficient your farm is • Return of capital investments over time and associated reduction in carbon footprint (hopefully!)
  • 13. What can you do? • Increase milk yields (regardless of system) • Reduce replacement rate • Feed by-products • Better manage manures & reduce bagged fertiliser where possible • Reduce dietary protein • Invest in heat recovery, water re-use (plate cooler & rain water), extended grazing • Use off peak electricity
  • 14. What is DairyCo doing? • R&D projects - new and existing – Sampling guidelines project with Carbon Trust and DairyUK - aiming to standardise carbon footprinting of milk pools/fields – Establishment of an annual average national carbon footprint figure which will provide industry with a benchmark to measure future progress – Opportunities for new forage species • Environment issue statements/ GHG factsheets • Good communications with industry & Defra • Milk Roadmap
  • 15. Some of the challenges! • Still a lot of unknowns • Some GHG emissions are inevitable! • Climate events/ unexpected disease outbreak(s) • Limited farmer buy-in • Government/policy • Media • Labelling
  • 16. More reductions are possible! • Dairy sector recognises the need to reduce GHG emissions • DairyCo leading discussions & information provision for farmers, industry, Government • Many environmental objectives have synergies with efficiency and cost savings • DairyCo need to get these win-win messages over to more dairy farmers!
  • 17. Thank you for your attention!