Carbon footprint report 2013

Published 21 May 14

Work completed in the first DairyCo Project ‘Greenhouse gas emissions on British dairy farms’ published in February 2012 showed a considerable range in carbon footprint. The range demonstrates that a significant number of opportunities exist to reduce emissions and increase business efficiency.

The second year of the DairyCo carbon foot printing study retained the same objectives as year one.  Perhaps the most important of these were; to provide a Carbon Trust verified average carbon footprint figure using actual farm data for British milk production; provide each participating farmer with an individual carbon footprint figure whilst identifying opportunities for improved efficiencies on-farm; and provide British dairy farmers with the practical information and knowledge needed to reach key targets in improved business efficiency, environmental stewardship, and carbon reduction.

In addition for year two, the study aimed to identify and analyse differences in emissions and key efficiency measures as compared to year one.

A key message from the data collected in year one was that no particular production system was more carbon efficient than any other. This was again supported by the analysis of milk production, feed conversion, manure utilisation, synthetic nitrogen applications, stock replacement rate, and electricity and fuel consumption (i.e. the ‘key’ efficiency measures) compared to the carbon footprints of 415 farms in year two. Carbon efficiency was found to be driven by using resources available as efficiently as possible within a given system. Three hundred and forty eight (348) of the original farms from year one participated in year two of this study and 67 ‘replacement farms’ joined to maintain a total group of 415. The average carbon footprint of the 415 farms assessed in year two using the Carbon Trust certified E-CO2 model is 1,227 g CO2e/litre (as calculated on a weighted mean basis); this represents a 5.4% decrease from year one.