Carbon footprint report 2014

Published 21 May 14

A three-year investigation into the carbon footprint of British milk was completed in 2013. The main objectives of the study were, to:-

  • Provide a robust, Carbon Trust verified, average carbon foot print for GB milk 
  • Identify hotspots for GHG emissions at farm level
  • Provide participant farmers with a carbon footprint for milk on their farm, highlighting current performance and potential opportunities for  efficient carbon management
  • Verify strategies to improve carbon efficiency in dairy farming.

A sample of 415 farms reflective of the British dairy industry was recruited to the survey in 2010. Each year, farms which had to leave the survey during the period of the study, were replaced by others with broadly similar characteristics, so as to retain the integrity of the sample.  A core of 305 farms completed all three years of the survey - a retention rate of 73%.  Over all three years, 1,245 individual farm assessments contributed to the study.

The report base-lined the carbon foot print of British milk up to the farm gate, which typically represents over 80% of the total carbon footprint of liquid milk. All emissions were converted into grams CO2 equivalent, and carbon footprint expressed as grams of CO2 equivalent per litre of fat corrected milk. The weighted average footprint over the three years of the study was 1,232 (g CO2e/litre), which is broadly comparable to international published figures.

For the annual sample of 415 farms, the average foot print (g CO2e/litre of fat corrected milk) was 1,293, 1,227 and 1,177, for years 1 to 3 respectively - an overall reduction of 9.0% over the period studied. This was consistent with the core sample of 305 farms which recorded average footprints of 1,287, 1,220, and 1,183 g CO2e/litre for years 1 to 3 respectively – a reduction of 8.1% for the period overall.