Climate-friendly milk production
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- 20 January 2009
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How do you measure the impact of milk production on the climate?
Anna Flysjö, a PhD research student at Arla Foods, travelled to New Zealand to find out.
Her ground-breaking PhD project aims to monitor the emission of greenhouse gases from field to dairy, analyse how much methane is emitted by flatulent cows and how much nitrous oxide is emitted from fertiliser spread on fields.
Anna Flysjö will subsequently set up a model to compare the climate impact of, for example, New Zealand and Danish dairy production.
A complex task
“A biological system is highly complex and there are substantial uncertainties as to the amount of methane cows emit,” says Anna Flysjö. “Among other things, it depends on the feed. On the other hand, it’s easy to measure how much carbon dioxide a car emits.”
Anna Flysjö will also work on a model that can measure the overall environmental impact right down to the individual product. She will also pinpoint the most obvious areas for environmental improvements throughout the production chain from cow to consumer.
Anna Flysjö’s research is part of three working areas in a major innovation project designed to document the emission of greenhouse gases from field to dairy. The project includes the setting up of an experimental farm for the collection of data to be analysed in the years to come.
“We currently lack knowledge into how work on a farm impacts on the environment. In a new initiative, Arla Foods, in partnership with researchers and consultants, intends to establish how we can bring about some real environmental improvements to our milk production,” says Group Environmental Manager Jan D. Johannesen from Arla Foods.
Besides Arla Foods, Agro Tech, Århus University’s Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and The Danish Cattle Federation are participating in the project.
Arla Foods is an international dairy company owned by 9,400 farmers from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Arla Foods is one of the leading players in the international dairy arena with well-known brands like Arla®, Lurpak®, Puck® and Castello®. Arla Foods is focused on providing good dairy nourishment from sustainable farming and operations and is also the world's largest manufacturer of organic dairy products.