Sustainable dairy starts at the farm

We have worked to reduce the CO2 emissions on farms for years. That’s because we know it’s here the lion’s share of emissions from dairy production comes from. And this is where the journey towards a more sustainable glass of milk starts.

Since 1990, Arla farms across Northern Europe have collectively reduced CO2 emissions per kilo of milk by 24 per cent. This means that the carbon footprint of a kilo of Arla milk is already about half the global average.   

Every day, our 10,300 farmer owners learn new ways to be more sustainable and work to reduce their CO2 emissions on farm, and they are committed to accelerating the transition to even more sustainable dairy production.  

Since 2013, we’ve held almost 700 on-farm meetings to educate groups of farmers about the sorts of sustainability measures they can put in place. On top of these, more than 5,000 climate assessments have taken place on our owners’ farms.  

We use trained consultants to calculate a farm’s carbon footprint. Their assessment also identifies the strengths and development points for the farm to become more climate efficient. 

“The climate assessment is highly motivating because it identifies your farms’ potential for CO2 reductions, which will often lead to cost savings.”

Jan Toft Nørgaard
Dairy farmer and chairman of Arla Foods

What can farmers do to reduce their farm’s carbon emissions? 

The cow’s feed

When the cow digests the feed, the natural gas methane is produced and is released through burps. Changing the feed composition can make the cow less gassy.  

Feed production

Efficient feed production ensures that there is just the right amount of nutrients to grow the crops and it minimises the nutrients lost during storage, handling and usage in the fields. This not only reduces the climate impact but also improves profitability on the farm.  

Manure handling

Manure used for biogas production reduces emissions and produces renewable energy. When manure is used in the fields, it should be incorporated into the soil as fast as possible to reduce the loss of nitrogen.  

Renewable energy

The farm can produce renewable energy through solar panels, biogas or wind turbines. Currently the electricity produced on Arla farms equals 61% of their total electricity usage.   

Animal welfare

As the cow doesn’t produce milk the first two years of its life, the total emissions per kilo of milk during its lifetime are reduced the longer it lives and the more milk it produces. It is a proven fact that better animal welfare improves a cow's milk yield and life-span.

Fuel

The machinery, tractors etc. on farm can be changed to models using less fuel and more non-fossil fuels. Farmers can practice eco-driving to reduce mileage and fuel usage per kilometer.   

Carbon sequestration

Carbon sequestration (capturing and storing carbon in the soil) can increase, particularly when growing grass and using manure.  

Trees and plants

The farmer can plant more trees, bushes, hedges and flowers on his land, which will not only help absorb CO2 but also improve biodiversity. 

Sustainable dairy starts at the farm | Carbon Net Zero by 2050