DAIRY EVENT: Combating Greenhouse Gases

UK - Dairy producers are in the driving seat taking responsibility and adopting a variety of measures towards mitigating climate change, RABDF chairman, David Cotton told a media briefing today, Tuesday 7 September, at the Dairy Event and Livestock Show, The NEC, Birmingham.
calendar icon 8 September 2010
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The time had now come for the rest of the food industry to catch up, follow suit and adopt a standard carbon foot print measurement that all stakeholders could subscribe to, he said.

“Continuing pressure on farmers to invest in and adopt energy saving measures, led us to question ‘what is happening on your farm’,” Mr Cotton explained. “To find out for ourselves, last month RABDF conducted a member survey and we received an overwhelming response from 322 farmers. The highest level of response came from those managing high input, high output systems.

“As many as 60 per cent of producers were taking serious action to change their farming systems or had already adopted measures specifically targeted at reducing greenhouse gases (GHG),” he said. “Increasing longevity through careful selection of genetics came top of the options with 94 per cent indicating they were already responding; 78 per cent said they had invested in energy efficient equipment; 63 per cent were increasing yield per cow through carefully formulated diets to improve FCE while 30 per cent were harvesting rain water.

“I’m pleased I can say I am among those respondents,” said Mr Cotton who farms a 180 cow unit at Glastonbury, Somerset. “Installing a new energy saving bulk tank compressor has brought 50 per cent savings to energy cooling requirements, and low energy light bulbs have made a further 50 per cent cut in lighting electricity requirements, while introducing rain water storage tanks have made a 10 per cent saving on water requirements.”

Despite Government funding being made available towards installation of anaerobic digesters, as few as five per cent of the survey respondees indicated take up so far, said Mr Cotton. “That very low level of response reflects the impractical scale of operation required for individual dairy farms and the fact that the huge investment required simply does not stack up on most farms.

“In addition, 44 per cent of farmers indicated that they had measured their unit’s carbon footprint, a figure which did not come as a surprise simply because carbon footprint is a prerequisite of supermarket buyers offering direct liquid contracts, and it is an indicator that has been developed by the Dairy Supply Chain Forum's Milk Roadmap, the tool designed to help the sector to address its environmental impact.”

He added: “While we believe that this level of take up measuring carbon footprint is both commendable and encouraging, for consumers the data is relatively meaningless simply because there is no agreed standard carbon footprint measurement across the food sector.

"Therefore it is impossible to compare and contrast the carbon footprint between for example one litre of milk and one litre of orange juice. It is much more significant that the majority of farmers are doing something to reduce GHG to help the environment and in taking that lead, we believe that it is high time that a standard measurement is agreed across the entire food industry.”

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