Article

# Effect of summer grazing on carbon footprint of milk in Italian Alps: A sensitivity approach

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... Several studies, some cited in the mentioned reviews, were single-issue LCAs and focused only on GHG emissions (e.g. Basset-Mens et al. 2009a;Belflower et al. 2012;Capper and Cady 2019;Cederberg et al. 2012;de Léis et al. 2014;Guerci et al. 2014;Henriksson et al. 2011;Kiefer et al. 2014Kiefer et al. , 2015Lovett et al. 2008;O'Brien et al. 2014;Rendón-Huerta et al. 2014;Zehetmeier et al. 2014a). According to McClelland et al. (2018), almost one-third of the livestock related LCA publications between 2000 and 2016 focused solely on GHG emissions. ...
... Aguirre-Villegas et al. (2017) is the only study, which compared the GHG emissions for a certain milk production, but not for all diets with same milk yield. Some studies assessed the development of dairy production over time (Capper et al. 2009;Capper and Cady 2019;Cederberg et al. 2012;Jayasundara and Wagner-Riddle 2014;Mosnier et al. 2017;Rendón-Huerta et al. 2014) or included LUC (de Léis et al. 2014;Flysjö et al. 2012;Guerci et al. 2014;Kiefer et al. 2015;Nguyen et al. 2013;O'Brien et al. 2014O'Brien et al. , 2012, but none combined both methods to describe the development of GHG emission in relation with LUC. Others focused on uncertainties (Basset-Mens et al. 2009a;Chen and Corson 2014;Flysjö et al. 2011;Henriksson et al. 2011;Lovett et al. 2008;Schueler et al. 2018;Wolf et al. 2016;Zehetmeier et al. 2014a,b), which is an essential part of an LCA and is supposed to support the result interpretation. ...
... Comparable studies usually include LUC for certain feed components (e.g. soybean meal), which are produced off-farm and therefore purchased (Flysjö et al. 2012;Guerci et al. 2014;Kiefer et al. 2015;Nguyen et al. 2013;O'Brien et al. 2014O'Brien et al. , 2012 or to all land occupied (Flysjö et al. 2012). Off-farm produced feed components, especially soybean meal, are assumed to force LUC from forest land to cropland. ...
Thesis
Die Arbeit liefert ein umfassendes Verständnis der (1) Auswirkungen auf Landnutzung und Treibhausgas (THG)-emissionen im Zusammenhang mit der deutschen Milchproduktion im Zeitraum von 2000 bis 2015 und bis 2030, (2) Unsicherheiten hinsichtlich der Bewertung der THG-emissionen der Milchproduktion und (3) Bewertung der Anwendbarkeit des zugrundeliegenden Modells für andere Länder als Deutschland. Landnutzung stellt die Anbaufläche von Futter für bestimmte Milchleistungen dar. Die Arbeit konzentrierte sich auf die Landnutzungsänderung zwischen Grün- und Ackerland durch Änderung der Milchkuhrationen. Ein Ökobilanz-Modell wurde entwickelt, um die Auswirkungen der Entwicklung der deutschen Milchproduktion und -leistung (typische Rationen unter deutschen Bedingungen) bis 2030 für drei Weidesysteme (ohne Weide, Halbtags- und Ganztagsweide) zu simulieren. THG-emissionen wurden für die gesamte Produktionskette berechnet, beginnend mit dem Pflanzenbau. Eingangsdaten für Ökobilanz-Studien von Lebensmitteln werden von Variabilität und Unsicherheiten beeinflusst. Ein systematischer Ansatz (Kombination aus lokaler und globaler Sensitivitätsanalyse) wurde verwendet, um wesentliche Eingangsparameter für die Bewertung der THG-emissionen der Milchproduktion zu identifizieren. Zu diesem Zweck wurden drei Rationen, welche die Weidesysteme im Jahr 2030 repräsentieren, ausgewählt. Die lokale Sensitivitätsanalyse diente der Identifikation der einflussreichsten Parameter, die globale der Identifikation der wichtigsten Parameter. Die USA dienen der Prüfung der Anwendbarkeit des Modells für andere Länder. Produktionssystem, verfügbare Daten und IPCC Tier-Methoden werden mit dem deutschen System und zugehörigen Daten verglichen. Diese Arbeit liefert wichtige Erkenntnisse zur künftigen Intensivierung der Milchproduktion sowie zu Klimaschutzpotenzialen in Abhängigkeit der Fütterungsstrategie. Darüber hinaus trägt sie zur Verringerung der Unsicherheiten künftiger Studien zur Milchproduktion bei.
... The production of animal food using non-human edible resources is an important issue, because of the increasing concern about the potential competition between feed and food (i.e., the use of potentially humanedible feeds for animal feeding; Ertl et al., 2015). The few studies to our knowledge available on the environmental impact of Alpine dairy farming systems (Hörtenhuber et al., 2010;Guerci et al., 2014;Kiefer et al., 2015;Salvador et al., 2016) have applied the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA, ISO, 2006) method, which aims at evaluating the impacts of a product following its life cycle. Among these studies, only Hörtenhuber et al., 2010 andGuerci et al., 2014 specifically compared different dairy systems in terms of environmental impact, which was computed only in terms of greenhouse gases emissions. ...
... The few studies to our knowledge available on the environmental impact of Alpine dairy farming systems (Hörtenhuber et al., 2010;Guerci et al., 2014;Kiefer et al., 2015;Salvador et al., 2016) have applied the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA, ISO, 2006) method, which aims at evaluating the impacts of a product following its life cycle. Among these studies, only Hörtenhuber et al., 2010 andGuerci et al., 2014 specifically compared different dairy systems in terms of environmental impact, which was computed only in terms of greenhouse gases emissions. ...
... Various studies have evaluated the environmental footprint of dairy production systems, considering a variegated set of impact categories, but few studies focused on the Alpine dairy production systems in Italy (Guerci et al., 2014;Salvador et al., 2016), southern Germany (Kiefer et al., 2015) and Austria (Hörtenhuber et al., 2010). Despite the fact that the LCA models used in these studies could be slightly different, GWP values found in this study were within the range for GWP (0.90-1.72 kg CO 2 -eq) per 1 kg FPCM. ...
Article
In the European Alps traditional, low-input dairy farming systems still coexist with modern high-input intensive systems. This study aimed at evaluating the effect of different Alpine farming systems on the environmental footprint, production efficiency (gross energy conversion ratio, ECR) and competition between feed and food (potentially human-edible gross energy conversion ratio, HeECR). Data originated from 37 dairy farms located in the Trento province (eastern Italian Alps), from which four dairy systems were derived by performing non-hierarchical cluster analysis based on farm facilities and management features (traditional, either with tie or loose stalls, and intensive, either with or without use of silages, systems). Environmental footprint was computed using a cradle-to-farm gate Life Cycle Assessment model. One kg fat- and protein-corrected Milk (FPCM) and 1 m² of agricultural land were used as functional units. Global warming (GWP), acidification (AP) and eutrophication (EP) potentials, cumulative energy demand (CED) and land occupation (LO) were included as impact categories. System boundaries included herd and manure management, on-farm feedstuffs production and purchased feedstuffs and materials. Mean impact values per 1 kg FPCM were 1.0 ± 0.3 kg CO2-eq (GWP), 21.1 ± 4.3 g SO2-eq. (AP), 6.3 ± 1.2 g PO4-eq. (EP), 5.0 ± 2.0 MJ (CED), 1.4 ± 0.5 m²/y (LO), whereas per 1 m2 were 0.8 ± 0.3 kg CO2-eq (GWP), 16.3 ± 4.2 g SO2-eq. (AP), 4.9 ± 1.3 g PO4-eq. (EP), 3.8 ± 1.8 MJ (CED). Mean ECR was 5.17 ± 0.89 MJ/MJ, with 88% of gross energy provided by non-human edible feedstuffs. A large variability was found both between and within dairy systems, in terms of environmental footprint and production efficiency. Impact values were slightly greater per unit of product and lower per unit of area in traditional than in intensive farms, although generally without significant differences. Production efficiency of traditional farms was 17% lower in terms of ECR but 59% greater in terms of HeECR, due to a lower proportion of purchased concentrates in animal rations, with a positive contribution to food balance and diet self-sufficiency. These results indicate that the transition from traditional towards intensive systems improved only slightly the environmental footprint of dairy farming, but increased markedly its dependence on external concentrate feeds and the feed-food competition. In perspective, different aspects of mountain dairy systems, such as the conversion into food of human non edible feeds, the low impacts at the local scale, the ability to conserve grasslands under a land-sharing perspective, and in general the associated ecosystem services, should be considered when aiming to improve their environmental sustainability.
... The application of LCA to dairy farms usually does not consider the multifunctional character of livestock systems, and final environmental emissions are apportioned only to the milk and the coproduct meat. In this way, when considering the LCA approach for assessing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the small-scale mountain dairy farms are in a disadvantaged position with respect to intensive farms because of their limited productivity (Gerber et al., 2011). However, on the other hand, small-scale dairy farms are characterized by the high presence of grassland, low presence of arable crops, low extra-farm inputs, and a lower density of animals per hectare (Battaglini et al., 2014). ...
... In terms of milk productivity, LLU farms tended to produce less than the HLU group (4300 vs. 4942 kg FPCM/cow/ years; P 0.10). The average total value of 4621 kg FPCM/cow/years was lower than the production levels registered by other authors in the same alpine area (Penati et al., 2011;Sturaro et al., 2013) and confirms the low productivity level that characterized the mountain dairy farms using highland pasture (Guerci et al., 2014). The DM intake of cows, was significantly higher in LLU than in HLU farms (22.1 vs. 18.7 kg DM/cow/day, P 0.01), and the average value was higher than reported by Bovolenta et al. (2008Bovolenta et al. ( , 2009). ...
... Moreover, while in LLU farms concentrate feed was 16.8%, in the HLU farms this percentage reached 28.9% (P 0.01). As a consequence of the limited amount of concentrate used, the feed efficiency of these farms was also low and differed significantly between farm groups (0.54 vs. 0.72 kg FPCM/kg DM intake for LLU and HLU farms, respectively, P 0.01), and it was lower than the value reported by Guerci et al. (2014), which was 1.09 kg FPCM/kg DM intake. LLU small-scale farms managed a smaller agricultural surface, both as grasslands and as highland pasture, than HLU farms (5.8 vs. 61.3 ...
Article
In Europe and in the Mediterranean basin, goats and especially dairy goats have a peculiar importance and their production systems have been deeply changed during the last 50 years. Although the goats are generally seen as environmental friendly, the goat sector is more and more questioned by the general environmental challenges faced by agriculture and livestock Production. Agro – ecology is the general movement and approach to study the application of ecological principles to the design of sustainable agro – food systems. The several forms of agro – ecology and their application in animal production are reviewed; the concepts of ecological intensification and ecologically bio diversity based animal production are mobilized to introduce the possible types of changes implemented in a diversity of situations. The integration of goat activities in agro – food industry and the social role of goats by small holders in rural areas are the two main drivers to understand what forms of agro – ecology to implement for sustainable goat systems in Europe and in the Mediterranean. After having underlined the importance of agro – ecological transition as a complex process involving environmental, technical, social and societal changes, several methodological approaches based on real situations are proposed to address this transition for goats. The conclusions of this survey insist on the importance of the participatory approach to build collectively solutions adapted to each situation. Consequently, agro – ecology could be a good driver to impulse new dynamics in the goat sectors and especially in Europe and the Mediterranean area. Several pathways could be followed with a diversity of agro – ecological profiles to favor the sustainable development of goat systems.
... The annual milk production of each associated farm was converted into Fat and Protein Corrected Milk (FPCM; 4.0% of fat and 3.3% of protein content), using the equation suggested by IDF (2010), based on milk composition. In order to quantify the total annual GWP of milk production in Lombardy three datasets derived from previous LCA studies conducted on Lombardy dairy farms (Bava et al., 2014b;Guerci et al., 2013a;Guerci et al., 2014) were combined in a new aggregate dataset of 102 dairy farms representative of the dairy farming systems in the region. In these reference studies, GWP of milk production was assessed through a cradle to farm gate Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). ...
... As previously mentioned, dairy farming in Lombardy is characterised by different farming systems that approximately correspond to the three altitude areas where the region is divided. To study in deep the environmental impact and the mitigation potential of the different farming systems and the different areas, the GWP from farms associated to the Italian Breeders Association and located in three altitude zones (lowland, hills and mountains) was calculated using the average values of GWP obtained from the cited previous studies (Bava et al., 2014b;Guerci et al., 2013a;Guerci et al., 2014) and derived respectively from 52 dairy farms in the plain, 18 in the hills and 32 in the mountains. ...
... For milk production system an evaluation of mitigation potential per altitude zone was performed, assuming for total milk produced in each altitude zone (lowland, hills, mountains), the minimum unitary GWP values for milk production obtained from single farms from each zone among those analysed in reference studies (Bava et al., 2014b;Guerci et al., 2013a;Guerci et al., 2014). ...
... For example, a study of Penati et al. (2009) in an alpine area of Sondrio province reports that about 77% of farms (24 out of 31 surveyed farms) used selfproduced maize silage with an amount ranging from 5 to 28 kg/cow/ day. Similarly, Guerci et al. (2014) report an average total land area of 77 ha for farms located in lowland alpine areas (Sondrio province); in these farms, the surface cultivated with maize was on average 11.1 ha. Assuming an economical value of maize silage of € 46/t (Clal, 2017) and an average maize silage yield of 40 t/ha, in HD areas the annual loss would exceed € 20,000 per farm. ...
... In fact, according to Mátrai et al. (2013) the diet of red deer is dominated by browses. According to Guerci et al. (2014), the average surface of permanent grassland in lowland alpine farms in Sondrio province (where the study area is located) is 18.3 ha. Considering both these values (grassland surface and average DM loss), the loss of grass due to deer grazing from permanent meadows would be about 300 kg DM/ha, which corresponds to a total annual loss of 5.5 t DM/farm. ...
Article
During the last decades in Italy red deer (Cervus elaphus) density has locally reached very high values, with consequent serious problems due to the interaction with human activities, especially in protected areas. This study aims at quantifying the impact of red deer on herbaceous crops for forage production in a protected area in Northern Italy, that has been recently colonized by this species. To this aim, 14 exclusion enclosures on maize destined for whole plant silage production and 24 exclusion enclosures (not grazed, NG) on permanent meadows were established. For each of these sample plots (2 × 2 m), an adjacent control plot of identical surface area was established, freely available to red deer (grazed, G). Maize was harvested in September, whereas three grass cuts were harvested on meadows (May, July and August) and biomass production was weighed. Grass samples were collected, both in NG and in G plots, for chemical analysis. Red deer number was monthly estimated by night counts along fixed paths, using spotlights. The analysis of deer distribution allowed the distinction between two areas: High Density (HD: Northern area, with lower human disturbance, abundance of sheltered areas and an estimated deer density of 14–30 heads/km²) and Low Density (LD: Central and Southern areas, with an estimated deer density of 0–1.6 heads/km²). The percentage of maize plots with deer damage was significantly higher in HD than in LD area (83.3 vs 12.5%, respectively; P < 0.05). In HD, red deer impact on maize crop was significant on plant height (NG = 250.75 ± 47.58 vs G = 136.87 ± 87.90 cm; P < 0.05) and biomass production/plant (NG = 0.87 ± 0.42 vs G = 0.37 ± 0.39 kg/4 m²; P < 0.05), whereas no significant effect was observed in LD. The percentage of plots of permanent meadows with deer damage did not differ between HD and LD areas. Significant losses were observed only in the second cut in the HD area for DM production, which was reduced by almost 14%. The chemical composition of the meadow forages showed only slight differences between G and NG plots (CP and NDF content significantly lower in G plots). The results obtained indicate that a high red deer density has an impact on the economic activity of farmers, particularly in term of maize losses (with estimated economic losses higher than € 20,000/farm/year), and suggest that appropriate management strategies, such as fencing of the crops at risk, are highly advisable.
... Among the different assessment methods considered to evaluate the environmental burdens of milk production, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology has been applied for a wide range of dairy products (Baldini et al., 2017;Daneshi et al., 2014;De Léis et al., 2015;Del Prado et al., 2013;Fantin et al., 2012;González-García et al., 2013a, 2013cGuerci et al., 2014;Meneses et al., 2012;Rafiee et al., 2016;Thomassen et al., 2008;Van der Werf et al., 2009;Vasilaki et al., 2016). Focusing on milk production, González-García et al. (2013a) evaluated the environmental impacts of packaged UHT milk in Portugal and concluded that raw milk production at the farm was the main contributor, in agreement with other similar studies (Daneshi et al., 2014;Rafiee et al., 2016). ...
... Focusing on milk production, González-García et al. (2013a) evaluated the environmental impacts of packaged UHT milk in Portugal and concluded that raw milk production at the farm was the main contributor, in agreement with other similar studies (Daneshi et al., 2014;Rafiee et al., 2016). Guerci et al. (2014) compared the carbon footprint of milk production from traditional grazing system and emerging intensive practices but no significant environmental differences were found, which was attributed to the limited mitigation effect of the summer grazing in traditional systems. Other studies on conventional and organic milk production in The Netherlands (Thomassen et al., 2008) and France (Van der Werf et al., 2009) also showed minor comparative variations regarding acidification and climate change impacts, although organic systems had larger environmental benefits in terms of energy use and eutrophication potential. ...
Article
This study focuses on the assessment of the environmental profile of a milk farm, representative of the dairy sector in Northeast Spain, from a cradle-to-gate perspective. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) principles established by ISO standards together with the carbon footprint guidelines proposed by International Dairy Federation (IDF) were followed. The environmental results showed two critical contributing factors: the production of the livestock feed (e.g., alfalfa) and the on-farm emissions from farming activities, with contributions higher than 50% in most impact categories. A comparison with other LCA studies was carried out, which confirmed the consistency of these results with the values reported in the literature for dairy systems from several countries. Additionally, the Water Footprint (WF) values were also estimated according to the Water Footprint Network (WFN) methodology to reveal that feed and fodder production also had a predominant influence on the global WF impacts, with contributions of 99%. Green WF was responsible for remarkable environmental burdens (around 88%) due to the impacts associated with the cultivation stage. Finally, the substitution of alfalfa by other alternative protein sources in animal diets were also proposed and analysed due to its relevance as one of the main contributors of livestock feed.
... When beef is considered as a coproduct (Physical allocation), the values obtained for the GWP related to the production of 1 kg of FPCM were similar in both groups of small-scale farms (on average 1.19 kg CO 2 -eq). This result is lower than the GWPs estimated by Guerci et al. (2014) in the central Italian Alps on traditional dairy farms (1.60 kg CO 2 -eq/kg FPCM) and the value registered by Kiefer et al. (2015) in grasslandbased areas of southern Germany (1.53 kg CO 2 -eq/kg FPCM). Other authors reported lower values in alpine dairy farms than those obtained in our study (1.14 kg CO 2 -eq/kg FPCM, Penati et al., 2013; 1.08 kg CO 2 -eq/kg FPCM, Schader et al., 2014). ...
... Other authors reported lower values in alpine dairy farms than those obtained in our study (1.14 kg CO 2 -eq/kg FPCM, Penati et al., 2013; 1.08 kg CO 2 -eq/kg FPCM, Schader et al., 2014). In agreement with Guerci et al. (2014), on average 84.1% of the total emissions were addressed to milk. This percentage was lower in the organic than in the conventional farms (81.6 vs. 86.5%; ...
Article
The aim of this study was to estimate the environmental impact of organic and conventional small-scale dairy farms in mountain areas. Sixteen farms rearing the dual-purpose Rendena breed were assessed for global warming potential, acidification and eutrophication impacts through the Life Cycle Assessment method in two scenarios: the Baseline Scenario based on the actual farm data and the Milk-Beef production system Scenario assuming that calves exceeding the culling rate were fattened directly on-farm. Three different emissions allocation methods were considered: No allocation; Physical allocation, which also accounted for the co-product beef; and Economic allocation, which also accounted for the ecosystem services provided by the farms and were estimated on the basis of agri-environmental payments. Furthermore, two functional units were used: fat and protein corrected milk (FPCM) and utilizable agricultural land (UAL). Within the Baseline Scenario and with FPCM as the functional unit, performing No allocation, the mean values obtained for the global warming potential, acidification and eutrophication were 1.43 kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM, 25.84 g SO2-eq/kg FPCM and 3.99 g PO43--eq/kg FPCM, respectively. The organic farms had a significantly lower eutrophication impact than the conventional farms considering all three allocation methods. Conversely, if UAL was used as the functional unit, the mean values obtained for the global warming potential, acidification and eutrophication were 0.80 kg CO2-eq/m2, 14.28 g SO2-eq/m2 and 2.32 g PO43--eq/m2, respectively. The Milk-Beef production system Scenario increased emissions per m2 of UAL, but it reduced the emissions apportioned to 1 kg of FPCM, with stronger trends in the organic farms because of the increased added value of the meat production. This study highlights how strengthening beef production in dual-purpose breeds reduced the emissions apportioned to milk and suggests an approach to acknowledge multi-functionality considering some of the ecosystem services provided by the farms.
... Despite the small size of the region, the local cheese production contributes approximately to 1.8% of the national cheese production [4] and has a strong traditional character [5]. The focus on few case studies is consistent with previous studies on milk production [6,7,8]. ...
... Among "midpoint level" categories belonging to ecosystems ( fig. 2.b), the highest impact was on ALO, followed by 8 The "midpoint level" categories are grouped at "endpoint level" into the categories of damage for human health, CCE categories. The soybean cultivation causes, for all farms, the above mentioned impact on ALO category. ...
Conference Paper
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1. Abstract The world production of cheese whey, which is the main contaminant generated by the cheese industry, is estimated to be over 10 8 tons/y. In Italy, the cheese production in 2013 was 1.16 6 ton. Thanks to its nutritional value, liquid whey can be successfully recycled in animal nutrition. Following the LCA methodology, this study aims to assess the environmental impact of milk production within the traditional dairy chain. In three farms, different cow's diets were assessed and compared: farm A, with hay and no liquid whey; farm B, including silages but no liquid whey; farm C, including both silages and liquid whey. Finally, sensitivity analysis was conducted on allocation methods (mass vs. cereal unit) between milk and meat. Results have shown that farm C had the best environmental performance due to both silages/liquid whey use and milk yield per cow (29 L vs 28 L in farm B and 25.1 L in farm A). The same results were achieved in the cereal unit allocation, even if the mass allocation results were higher than those with cereal unit allocation. The identification of critical impacts along the production cycle and the comparison among the three cow's diets suggest those best practices that could improve the milk production sustainability in marginal areas typical in South Central Italy.
... Intensification of grassland management is considered by some to be a threat to their adaptation capacity (Gellrich et al., 2007;Guerci et al., 2014). Intensification can be considered from two perspectives: (a) an increase in herbage production (primary production) per unit area through use of fertilizers or irrigation and/ or more productive species and cultivars; and (b) an increase in the proportion of the herbage produced that is consumed by herbivores or harvested by mowing. ...
Article
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Increasing management intensity of grassland through increased grazing intensity, mowing frequency and fertilizer input have attracted more attention to the consequences of grassland management practices on reduced soil quality and grassland yield. Given the importance of soil attributes in generating resilience in soil-vegetation-livestock systems, a better insight of the dynamic of these complex systems is warranted. The maintenance of proper soil physical, chemical and biological properties indicates the basis of a resilient grassland system. This review summarizes research approaches and outcomes of the effects of grazing, mowing and applying fertilizer on soil physical and biochemical characteristics with the aim of providing useful guidelines to researchers, land managers and policy makers to maintaining and improving soil attributes and grassland productivity. Based on the studied literatures, choice of management intensity on grasslands appears to be more critical. Light to moderate grassland management intensities have positive effects on soil properties, but frequent or incorrect management practices may cause undesirable consequences. Various factors such as the geographic region, and plant group functions additionally could have an effect on management regimes, so it can be concluded that optimal management method should be adapted to regional and local circumstances.
... kg CO 2 e kg À1 FPCM. The milk GWP footprint for SD_I_U is in line with other studies in temperate climates (Castanheira et al., 2010;Schader et al., 2014;Penati et al., 2013;Kiefer et al., 2015;Salvador et al., 2017;Guerci et al., 2014;Wang et al., 2018;Pirlo and Lolli, 2019), and the other footprints are within the range suggested by Asselin-Balençon et al. (Fig. 5). ...
Article
Dairy production has a substantial environmental impact. Currently, most studies analysing the environmental burdens of milk production employ attributional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), for cradle to farm-gate analysis of dairy systems. This approach calculates environmental footprints per kg fat and protein corrected milk (FPCM). However, milk and beef production are inherently interconnected, and a narrow focus on milk production neglects wider synergies and trade-offs across cattle systems, outside dairy farm boundaries. For the first time, we applied an expanded boundary LCA of coupled dairy and beef production in Latin America, considering 1 kg FPCM plus 100 g of beef as functional unit (FU) to reflect the current global beef:milk demand ratio and taking into account the complexities of Costa Rican cattle production systems. Boundaries encompassed fattening of surplus dairy calves and incurred or avoided suckler-beef production needed to deliver the FU. A database of 552 Costa Rican farms (203 beef and 349 dairy farms) was analysed using a farm LCA model to generate results across five impact categories (Global Warming Potential e GWP; Eutrophication; Acidification; Abiotic Resource Depletion; and Land Occupation-LO). Normalised scores indicated that cattle systems contribute most strongly to per capita GWP and LO burdens. Cradle to farm-gate attributional LCA showed that milk produced by dual-purpose farms had the largest GWP and LO footprints, whilst specialist farms had the smallest footprints, per kg FPCM. The expanded boundary LCA showed that dual-purpose farms generated smaller GWP footprints per kg FPCM plus 100 g beef than specialised dairy farms, though still required more land. Key factors were the herd structure, influencing the amount of beef produced, and milk yields per animal, reflecting the level of dairy specialisation. This new evidence on the environmental efficiency of cattle production systems emphasises the imperative to consider both milk and beef production as well as multiple environmental pressures across interconnected milk and beef production systems when designing sustainable intensification mitigation strategies.
... The average decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas in Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India, and Russia is about 40% (United Nations and DESA, 2015;Liu and Li, 2017). Rural populations in these areas are continuously decreasing, which has resulted in large-scale cropland abandonment (Renwick et al., 2013;Kong, 2014;Queiroz et al., 2014;Estel et al., 2015;Li et al., 2018), particularly in Western Europe (Bowen et al., 2007;Cramer et al., 2008;Alcantara et al., 2012Alcantara et al., , 2013, southeast Asia , the Mediterranean mountainous regions (Guerci et al., 2014;Novara et al., 2017), and former Soviet Union (Ioffe et al., 2004;Kuemmerle et al., 2011). ...
Article
Since 2000, vast areas of cropland in the rural mountain areas of China have been abandoned for reasons including labor loss and rapid urbanization, although the spatiotemporal patterns and causes of abandoned cropland (ACL) are not fully understood. We investigated changes in cropland abandonment in the GuizhoueGuangxi karst mountain area (GGKMA). We used the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectror-adiometer normalized difference vegetation index in conjunction with phenology metrics to obtain the land-use trajectory from 2001 to 2015, and then mapped the extent of cropland abandonment based on this land-use trajectory and local crop rotation cycle. We found that 10.45% (2.24 Â 10 4 km 2) of cropland in the GGKMA has been abandoned since 2001. In three sub-periods (2001e2005, 2005e2010, and 2011 e2015), the overall trend showed an initial increase and then a slight decrease in the cropland aban-donment rate (CAR) of 11.55%, 19.29%, and 17.17%, respectively. We explored the effects of environmental and socioeconomic factors on differences in the CAR by applying a multi-level model approach. About 26% and 16% of the variances in CAR were explained at the county and small watershed levels. At the small watershed level, spatiotemporal changes in CAR were primarily influenced by farming and soil conditions, while the severity of soil hydraulic erosion was a key factor in determining the distribution of CAR. Rural depopulation, the decline of agricultural activity, and low levels of education had significant positive effects on the increasing CAR, while the "feminization" of agriculture had the opposite effect on CAR at the county level. The results of this study implied that the spatial variation of abandonment may be influenced by environmental constraints, while socioeconomic changes were the direct cause of the temporal trend of abandonment. Government should encourage farmers to increase the vegetation cover rather than continually undertake unsustainable agricultural activities in the areas with steep slopes and eroded soil, as well as strive to reduce the production costs associated with scattered plots, poor agricultural infrastructure, and the rising opportunity cost of labor. This could include conducting land consolidation and transfer, and providing agricultural subsidies.
... However, if only the Italian farms were taken into account, the emissions ranged between 1.11 and 1.91 kg CO2eq / kg FPCM, with the highest value being observed in the farm and with the lowest production level per cow and the lowest feed efficiency. Salvador et al. [22], Guerci et al. [52] and Kiefer et al. [21] showed that the highest emission levels happened in more extensive production systems; conversely, this result was not confirmed by Chobtang et al. [53] or by Morais et al. [54]. However, usually, the greater the productive level of the farm, or its productive efficiency, the lower the environmental footprint per kg of milk [55]. ...
Article
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This study aimed to assess the environmental footprint of dairy farms rearing a dual-purpose breed, and to evaluate, through alternative scenario analyses, the fattening of calves and the cultivation of hemp as strategies for reducing the environmental impact of these farms. Eleven farms were evaluated for global warming (GWP), acidification (AC) and eutrophication (EUP) potential. The Life Cycle Assessment method with three scenarios, REAL, based on real data, BEEF, where calves were fattened in farm, and HEMP, where hemp was cultivated in farms, were considered. If referred to 1 m2 of utilizable agricultural land, the GWP, AC and EUP were 1.6 kgCO2eq, 21.7 gSO2eq and 7.1 gPO43-eq, respectively. If referring to 1 kg of fat and protein corrected milk, the emissions were 1.1-1.4 kgCO2eq, 14.8-19.0 gSO2eq, and 5.0-6.4 gPO43-eq, depending on the allocation method adopted. The emissions were associated positively with culling rate and negatively with production intensity. In BEEF and HEMP scenarios, the emissions were reduced by 8-11% and by 1-5%, respectively. Fattening the calves, evaluating the cultivation of alternative plants and improving the productive and reproductive efficiency of animals could be effective strategies for reducing the environmental footprint of the farm.
... The average decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas in Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India, and Russia is about 40% (United Nations and DESA, 2015;Liu and Li, 2017). Rural populations in these areas are continuously decreasing, which has resulted in large-scale cropland abandonment (Renwick et al., 2013;Kong, 2014;Queiroz et al., 2014;Estel et al., 2015;Li et al., 2018), particularly in Western Europe (Bowen et al., 2007;Cramer et al., 2008;Alcantara et al., 2012Alcantara et al., , 2013, southeast Asia , the Mediterranean mountainous regions (Guerci et al., 2014;Novara et al., 2017), and former Soviet Union (Ioffe et al., 2004;Kuemmerle et al., 2011). ...
Article
Since 2000, vast areas of cropland in the rural mountain areas of China have been abandoned for reasons including labor loss and rapid urbanization, although the spatiotemporal patterns and causes of abandoned cropland (ACL) are not fully understood. We investigated changes in cropland abandonment in the Guizhou–Guangxi karst mountain area (GGKMA). We used the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer normalized difference vegetation index in conjunction with phenology metrics to obtain the land-use trajectory from 2001 to 2015, and then mapped the extent of cropland abandonment based on this land-use trajectory and local crop rotation cycle. We found that 10.45% (2.24 × 10⁴ km²) of cropland in the GGKMA has been abandoned since 2001. In three sub-periods (2001–2005, 2005–2010, and 2011–2015), the overall trend showed an initial increase and then a slight decrease in the cropland abandonment rate (CAR) of 11.55%, 19.29%, and 17.17%, respectively. We explored the effects of environmental and socioeconomic factors on differences in the CAR by applying a multi-level model approach. About 26% and 16% of the variances in CAR were explained at the county and small watershed levels. At the small watershed level, spatiotemporal changes in CAR were primarily influenced by farming and soil conditions, while the severity of soil hydraulic erosion was a key factor in determining the distribution of CAR. Rural depopulation, the decline of agricultural activity, and low levels of education had significant positive effects on the increasing CAR, while the “feminization” of agriculture had the opposite effect on CAR at the county level. The results of this study implied that the spatial variation of abandonment may be influenced by environmental constraints, while socio-economic changes were the direct cause of the temporal trend of abandonment. Government should encourage farmers to increase the vegetation cover rather than continually undertake unsustainable agricultural activities in the areas with steep slopes and eroded soil, as well as strive to reduce the production costs associated with scattered plots, poor agricultural infrastructure, and the rising opportunity cost of labor. This could include conducting land consolidation and transfer, and providing agricultural subsidies.
... If grazing is related to a strong reduction in milk yield, this could outweigh the positive effects. For example in a comparison of systems with and without traditional summer grazing in the Italian Alps, Guerci et al. (2014) observed that even though summer grazing had positive effects on several environmental aspects and required less concentrate feed, lower milk yields and feed efficiencies made it disadvantageous in terms of climate change. Rotz et al. (2010) did find a mitigating effect of including a 6 month grazing period during the summer, however in contrast to other studies, they did not associate lower milk yields with the inclusion of the pasture period. ...
Article
The global warming potential of milk production is a key aspect in the assessment of its eco-efficiency. The carbon footprint summarises the climate-relevant emissions of the production cycle, with this study focussing on the emissions from cradle to farm gate as boundaries. Numerous life cycle assessments were published in recent years, presenting the carbon footprint for different regions, production systems and management scenarios. However, despite the obvious high scientific interest in this topic, general conclusions on the climate-friendliness of contrasting production systems can hardly be drawn and there is no clear answer to the question of whether or not grazing systems provide an overall more climate-friendly alternative to confinement systems. To resolve this discussion, a meta-analysis was applied to a dataset, created with data from a selection of 30 published life cycle assessments, comprising in total 87 carbon footprint values from 15 different countries. After a standardisation process, three production system categories (pasture-based, mixed and confinement) were defined based on feeding parameters. Aside from the comparison of the production systems, the effects of various production variables (pasture and concentrate intake, milk yield per cow, milk yield per kg of metabolic live weight, mineral nitrogen fertilisation, feed efficiency and replacement rate) were analysed. Therefore, linear and level-log mixed models were developed and analyses of covariance performed. As the dataset used for the analysis covered a large range of different intensities per production system, the results are based on a robust analysis and can be extrapolated to any milk production system with known in- and outputs. The results show that increases in milk yield, pasture intake and feed efficiency decreased the carbon footprint of milk significantly, independent of the production system. However, the mitigation potential is limited across production systems with regard to their productivity thresholds. The comparison of the systems without consideration of other production parameters did not reveal any significant differences. When controlling for milk yield, however, the pasture-based system achieved lower carbon footprints compared to the other production systems. Thus, irrespective of the importance of milk yield for emissions and the generally lower milk yields of the pasture-based production system, this system still offers a competitive climate impact.
... Regarding the sensitive analysis, it is well recognized that the allocation choice heavily affects the final results of a life cycle assessment Guerci et al., 2014), so the Fat and Protein content Allocation (FP-A) and the Economic Allocation (E-A) were compared with the Dry Matter content Allocation (DM-A) implemented in the tool. FP-A was calculated considering the fat and protein content of the products and by-products at the dairy factory level and the E-A considered the economic values of the products and by-products at the dairy factory level . ...
Article
The paper describes the general structure of the PMT_01 tool developed to assess the environmental impacts of different dairy products as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses of Lombardy Region (Po Valley - Northern Italy) and High Quality fresh pasteurized milk in a cradle-to-distribution center gate approach. Based on the PEF Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology, the authors aim to provide a useful instrument for technicians and researchers in the evaluation of the environmental load of dairy products, allowing the process-hotspots identification through 16 different impact categories. The tool requires a modest amount of data that can be easily collected at the farms and at the dairies. In order to test the tool's performance, the environmental impact of 10 g dry matter of Grana Padano PDO cheese was evaluated starting from the data of three different dairy farms used as “reference farming systems” and one dairy factory. A scenario and a sensitive analysis were also included in the study. The main contribution to most of the environmental impact categories was related to the raw milk production while the dairy factory process affected significantly only a few impact categories. The scenario analysis suggested that the anaerobic digestion could have a strong potential in the mitigation of the GHG emissions while the sensitive analysis confirmed that the choice of the allocation method at the dairy factory level is a key point in the methodological choices. Despite the test of the tool was done only on three farms and one dairy factory, the results were consistent with those of recent studies. Even if some improvements in the tool functionalities are needed, we believe that in the future it could be easily applied on a wider sample of farms and dairies, and used to guide the stakeholders through a responsible environmental strategy.
... Climate change is highly influenced by Land Use Change (LUC), which is represented in this case by the CO 2 emission due to the cultivation of soybean on new fields in Brazilian area, at the expense of forest areas. The inclusion of LUC in the evaluations of this study increased climate change of milk production; other authors (Flysjö et al., 2012;Guerci et al., 2014) reported that the contribution of commercial feed production to climate change of milk production can greatly increase with the inclusion of LUC emissions and the total impact can reach values more than three times higher compared to the estimates without LUC emissions. ...
Article
The dairy sector is recognised as one of the most impacting agricultural activities. In Italy approximately 24% of cow's milk is destined to Grana Padano, a Protected Designation of Origin long ripening cheese. The Grana Padano production has increased by 10% in the last decade and approximately reached 183,000 t in 2015. Around 38% of this production is exported to Germany, US, France and to the rest of the world. This study evaluated the environmental impact of production of Grana Padano, through a “cradle to cheese factory gate” Life Cycle Assessment. The study involved an Italian cheese factory that produces about 3.6% of the total production of Grana Padano cheese and a group of 5 dairy farms, chosen among the farms that sold all milk produced to the cheese factory. The functional unit was 1 kg of Grana Padano cheese 12-month ripened. Environmental impacts of co-products: whey, cream, butter and buttermilk were also evaluated. Two sensitivity analyses were conducted: the first one had the aim to explore the effect of different allocation methods based on dry matter content, economic or nutritive value of cheese, respectively; the second one considered the variation of the impacts of milk production and its effect on cheese environmental impact. Milk production phase gave the most important contribution to the environmental impact of cheese, with a percentage of 93.5–99.6% depending on the impact category. Excluding milk production from the system boundary, milk transport and use of electricity were the main responsible of the environmental impact of cheese-making process. The climate change impact for the production of 1 kg Grana Padano was 10.3 kg of CO2 eq, using a dry matter allocation method, while 16.9 and 15.2 kg of CO2 eq adopting economic and nutritive value allocation methods, respectively.
... On the contrary, the HAY scenario showed the lowest DM selfsufficiency and, as consequence, the highest amount of purchased feed and has a higher CP self-sufficiency compared with BASE scenario. The use of purchased feeds was necessary to meet the energy and protein requirements of the animals, which were not supported enough by home-grown feeds (Guerci et al., 2014). The HAY scenario showed also the lowest forage percentage on ration DM of lactating cows because of the need of maintaining the same milk production and of maximizing the use of home-grown feed. ...
Article
Animal feeding is a critical point in terms of both production efficiency and environmental impact for the livestock sector and farmer choices about home-grown feed can have great influence on environmental impact of milk production. The aim of the study was to assess the environmental performances of the most common home-grown fodder crops in Northern Italy and to analyse the impacts of different cropping system scenarios for milk production, through a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. The environmental impact of the most common home-grown feeds was calculated from cradle-to-the-animal’s mouth expressing the different categories per hectare and per unit of net energy for lactation and protein digested in the small intestine when rumen-fermentable nitrogen is the limiting factor (PDIN). Moreover four scenarios (BASE, HAY, SILAGE, PROTEIN) characterised by different cropping systems were hypothesized to assess the environmental impact of milk production from cradle to farm gate in an intensive farming system. Primary data were collected by direct interviews in 134 dairy farms located in Lombardy Region (Northern Italy).
... In the last decades, these two semi-natural agroecosystems have gone through widespread degradation processes, as a result of profound socio-economic shifts (Bätzing, 2003) and of deep changes with respect to farming strategies. In particular, two main kinds of alteration have involved meadows: the land abandonment (Gellrich et al., 2007;Hopkins and Holz, 2006), and the intensification of livestock systems (Andrighetto et al., 1993;Strijker, 2005;Guerci et al., 2014). ...
Article
Alpine meadows have been exposed to relevant management shifts in the last decades, with changes in plant species composition and biodiversity losses often occurring in favor of augmented foraging capabilities, especially in marginal rural contexts. In this study, we analyzed the relationships among the plant species composition, biodiversity and forage value of meadows and two sets of variables, environmental and management ones, in a dairy district of the Central Italian Alps. Results indicate that management variables could only explain limited variability of the meadows under study: for instance, the number of cuts per year is available to justify the plant species composition and biodiversity of such coenoses. Moreover, the environmental variables better described the variability of responses, due to the harsh environmental constraints of the area under examination, located at high altitudes. The shared effects of the two sets explained larger variance than the management set alone, due to the complex relationships of environmental and management factors in the context. The forage value of meadows, an indicator of hay quality, was found negatively associated with the Shannon Index. This behavior highlights a known dilemma which especially refers to high altitude communities as the ones under study, clearly highlighting trade-offs between their production and biodiversity. Some taxa as Anthriscus sylvestris, Heracleum sphondylium and others critically unbalance the species composition of meadows, thus their overall biodiversity, at low altitudes. This finding, explainable by the late first cuttings commonly adopted by all farmers, suggests the eutrophication of coenoses. The management choices inspected did not reflect on the wide variability of meadows, but indeed they made possible to understand how this farming system should be deeply revised, with respect to environmental constraints and meadows’ fodder capabilities.
... Many LCA studies on milk production assessed only one production year or calendar year (Thomassen et al. 2008a; Thomassen et al. 2008b;Guerci et al. 2013;Guerci et al. 2014; Thoma et al. 2013;Cederberg and Mattson 2000;Haas et al. 2000). More than 1 year was assessed in Müller-Lindenlauf et al. (2010) where an average of 6 years was used. ...
Article
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PurposeThis study examines the inter-annual variability of production data in an organic dairy farm and its effect on the estimation of product-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) using a detailed material flow model. It is believed that the examination of only one production year may not adequately reflect temporal representativeness and may therefore lead to unreliable results. The current study also provides a method to deal with variability when temporal representativeness cannot be ensured. Methods All material flows related to milk production from six consecutive milk years in an organic dairy farm in northern Germany were analysed. The milk yield of the 75 to 91 cows varied between 5418 and 7102 kg energy corrected milk (ECM) per cow and year. GHG emissions were estimated using calculation guidelines from the International Dairy Federation (IDF) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Emissions were calculated in the Flow Analysis and Resource Management (FARM) model ensuring mass balances for nitrogen and phosphorous in every subsection of the model. Based on the variability of crop yields, the number of years for representative average data was calculated as well as an uncertainty when only a limited number of years was available. Results and discussionEstimated GHG emissions varied between 0.88 and 1.09 kg CO2-eq kg−1 ECM−1 (mean, standard deviation of the mean = 0.97 and 0.07 kg CO2-eq kg−1 ECM−1). Emissions from ruminant digestion had the highest contribution (50.9 ± 2.3) percent in relation to overall product-related GHG emissions. Direct emissions from soil showed the highest coefficient of variation (36%) due to simultaneous changes in fertilization amount, crop yield and milk yield which showed no significant direct relationship. The number of years needed to be assessed for representative average yields was between 27 and 215 years for clover grass and maize silage, respectively. When performing a sensitivity analysis based on the variability of crop yields, the assessed farm showed reliable results with average data of at least 4 years. Conclusions Temporal representativeness should be dealt with explicitly in GHG assessments for dairy farming. If the representativeness of crop yields cannot be ensured, an uncertainty bandwidth of the results based on variability of yields can provide a basis for comparing different farms or farming systems. This approach could also be extended to other variabilities in dairy farming for more reliability of results.
... For AGRIBALYSE®, optimized systems, described in case studies, were used (Koch and Salou, 2015), while data used here allowed to draw a more realistic picture of the French cattle farm, leading to higher footprints. Carbon footprints are in the range of those met in the bibliography for milk, in France (Dollé et al., 2013: 0.89 kg CO 2 eq/kg FPCM), Italy (Guerci et al., 2013: 1.3 kg CO 2 eq/kg FPCM) or New Zealand (Basset-Mens et al., 2009: 0.93 kg CO 2 eq/kg FPCM), as well as for beef, in France Veysset et al., 2014: 12.8 to 14.5 kg CO 2 eq/kg LW) or USA (Pelletier et al., 2010: 14.8 to 19.2 kg CO 2 eq/kg LW). ...
Conference Paper
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French cattle farming is committing to take part to national and European greenhouse gases (GHG) mitigation targets. This study combines macroeconomics and life cycle assessment to estimate the climate contributions of the different methods of producing milk and meat at national level and to propose improvement strategies for the future. Analyses of former production systems, livestock population and agricultural practices allowed us to specify GHG emissions, energy consumption and corresponding footprints from 1990 to 2010. Various coherent, plausible and contrasted economic scenarios have been chosen to explore possible evolutions up to the year 2035. From 1990 to 2010, the cattle sector reduced its emissions and energy consumptions (respectively by-10.6% and-22%). Origin of such a reduction mainly is the decrease in cattle population: improvements in dairy productivity were followed by a decrease in the number of dairy cows, only partially balanced by an increase in the suckler cows' population. Farmers' progress in fertilization management and energy savings also contributed to the overall reduction. This bred a 20%-reduction of the carbon footprint (CF) of milk but a 5%-increase in the CF of meat, due to changes in animal products (less dairy cows, more animals from suckler herd, with allocation of the impacts). On the basis of an underlying projection of milk and meat productions in 2035, the future trend would be a stabilization of GHG emissions (+0.5%) and a decrease in energy consumption (-13%) between 2010 and 2035. The CF of milk would reach 0.94 kg CO 2 eq/kg FPCM and CF of beef 14 kg CO 2 eq/kg LW. Adoption of additional mitigation techniques would lead to improve both CF of milk and meat by-5% and-13%. Other scenarios explore contrasted situations on production level, as well as on the ways to produce milk and meat. The results show that mitigation strategies do exist to optimize milk and beef footprints at farm gate. However, the national level of GHG emissions and energy consumption will be mainly directed by economic context and food demand.
... Apesar da intensificação ter um papel importante em escala global, devido à sua influência na categoria de potencial de aquecimento global (mudanças climáticas), a produção leiteira é responsável também por outros não menos importantes impactos ambientais, como a acidificação, a eutrofização e a demanda de energia. E estes, em perspectiva local, estão positivamente associados ao grau de intensificação da produção (BAVA et al., 2014;NGUYEN et al., 2013). -2,4 kg CO 2 média mundial. ...
Article
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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool able to estimate the potential environmental emissions and point out the critical stages of a product or process throughout its life cycle. The aim of this study was to summarize the main results of national and international LCA dairy cattle researches and case of studies, from 2008 to 2014, and critically analyze the most frequent impact category addressed in literature: climate change, acidification, eutrophication, land use and energy demand. Of all stages, dairy farm holds the majority of emissions. The results show that the critical points of cattle milk production are the enteric emissions, production and use of synthetic fertilizers, manure application, production and transport of concentrate, and the low animal productivity. In general, climate change had a trade-off with the other impact categories, reason why it should not be taken into consideration by itself in environmental impact assessments. In Brazil, the intensification in grass-based production should be the most effective strategy in decreasing impacts, once it can reduce the necessity of non-renewable inputs and increase carbon sequestration via photosynthesis.
... Studies on the sustainability of summer farms have addressed the effects of abandonment or intensity of grazing on the biodiversity of grasslands (Parolo et al. 2011), the potential mitigating effect of summer grazing on the environmental impact of farming (Penati et al. 2011;Guerci et al. 2014), the effects of moving to summer pastures on animal health and welfare (Mattiello et al. 2005;Corazzin et al. 2010;Comin et al. 2011), and the influence of pasture on the sensorial and nutraceutical properties of milk (Martin et al. 2005;Gorlier et al. 2012). The effects of transhumance to summer farms on the nutritional status of animals and their milk production and quality are important issues, given that the milk is often processed into high-value products, yet so far they have been addressed in few experiments (Bovolenta et al. 1998(Bovolenta et al. , 2009Leiber et al. 2006;Romanzin et al. 2013;Farruggia et al. 2014). ...
Article
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This paper aimed at testing the differences of adaptability of bovine dairy, dual purpose and local breeds during the summer transhumance to highland pastures (summer farms), evaluating temporal variations of body condition and of milk yield and quality. Data were from 799 dairy cows of specialised (Holstein Friesian and Brown Swiss), dual purpose (Simmental) and local (mostly Rendena and Alpine Grey) breeds, and were collected before and after the transhumance in 109 permanent dairy farms, and during transhumance in 15 summer farms of the Autonomous Province of Trento, north-eastern Italy. Body Condition Score (BCS), milk production and quality (fat, protein, casein, lactose, urea, SCS) were analysed for the fixed effects of breed, parity, days in milk, month, supplementary concentrate level, and for the random effects of summer farm and individual cow. Body condition score was influenced by transhumance to summer farms, with low values in July and a recovery at the end of the period. This pattern was particularly marked in the specialised breeds. Similarly, also milk production declined, especially for Holstein Friesian and Brown Swiss, so that towards the end of transhumance all breeds had similar milk productions. Returning to permanent farms did not compensate the specialised breeds for the production loss experienced at the beginning of the grazing season. In conclusion, local and dual purpose breeds adapt better than specialised breeds to the summer pastures, and this results into an important reduction of their productive gaps (with lower variations of milk quality) and in maintaining body fat reserves.
... This study aimed at analyzing how information and communications could impact on the consumer's attitude toward climate neutral fresh milk. The livestock sector has a high impact in terms of carbon footprint (Guerci et al., 2014). Lowering GHG emission from the livestock sector deals with implementing climate neutral production techniques in a cost effectiveness way and to develop market communication to make carbon free milk competitive with alternative products. ...
Article
The livestock sector has a high impact in terms of carbon footprint. Lowering GHG emission from the livestock sector deals with implementing climate neutral production techniques in a cost effectiveness way and with developing market communication to make carbon free diary products competitive with alternative products. This study aimed at analyzing how information and communications could impact or affect the consumer’s attitude toward climate neutral fresh milk. The research focused on a case study carried out in Tuscany among a sample of supermarket customers, to assess consumer attitude toward fresh climate neutral milk using choice experiments methods. The participants were asked to attend a focus group meeting made of four different sessions. During the first session participants were asked to fill a background questionnaire and to watch a short documentary video about the climate change risks. A second session consisted in a choice experiment in which participants were presented with 12 choices, each describing a scenario in which the milk key attributes were planned at different levels (price, organic labeling and carbon footprint labeling). During the third session the focus group discussions was developed following a semi-structured debate about environmental labeling, climate neutral labeling and the environmental impact of individual’s purchasing behavior. In the fourth session participants were asked to express their preferences on the choice-sets with the same scenarios presented in the second session, in order to assess variation in individual willingness to pay (WTP) toward climate neutral and organic milk. Results show that communication could play a role in changing consumer attitude toward carbon free products.
... Therefore, this result is very important because it has great influence on the results of studies. For example, Guerci et al. (2013) in his paper, believes that all soybeans produced in Brazil is deforestation area, which may have overestimated GHG emissions in their study. In this contest, the results of this study are vastly different compared with other studies. ...
... LWG) which offset part of the total emissions. These values corroborate the importance of reporting the emissions from the land use change, because this emissions source can drastically affect GHG emissions (Flysj€ o et al., 2012;Guerci et al., 2014). Mineral supplementation in the form of mineral salt and water supply in troughs resulted in a small increase in emissions (0.017e0.09 ...
... Alig et al. (2011) and Penati et al. (2013) stress how farms in the mountain region had significantly higher energy demand per productive unit than farms in the lowland, mainly due to the more difficult climatic conditions [7.0 MJ eq/kg milk and 5.14 MJ/kg fat and protein corrected milk (FPCM) respectively for the two works]. About global warming potential, it is higher too for mountain farms (1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 kg CO2 eq/kg milk, for plain, hill, and mountain farms respectively) (Alig et al., 2011) and it increases for traditional farming system based on summer grazing when it is compared with a more intensive one (1.72 vs 1.55 kg CO2 eq/kg FPCM) as a consequence of low milk yield and low feed efficiency (Guerci et al., 2013b). Otherwise Haas et al. (2001) in a similar study found that GHG emissions for extensive dairy system are lower than in the intensive one per unit of produced milk (1.0 vs 1.3 t CO2 eq/t milk), and per area (7.0 vs 9.4 t CO2 eq/ha) this due mainly to mineral nitrogen fertiliser renounce. ...
Article
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The 2006 FAO report concerning the environmental impact of the livestock sector has generated scientific debate, especially considering the context of global warming and the need to provide animal products to a growing world population. However, this sector differs widely in terms of environmental context, production targets, degree of intensification and cultural role. The traditional breeding systems in the Alps were largely based on the use of meadows and pastures and produced not only milk and meat but also other fundamental positive externalities and ecosystem services, such as conservation of genetic resources, water flow regulation, pollination, climate regulation, landscape maintenance, recreation and ecotourism and cultural heritage. In recent decades, the mountain livestock, mainly represented by dairy cattle, has been affected by a dramatic reduction of farms, a strong increase of animals per farm, an increase in indoor production systems, more extensive use of specialised non-indigenous cattle breeds and the increasing use of extra-farm concentrates instead of meadows and pastures for fodder. This paper firstly describes the livestock sector in the Italian Alps and analyses the most important factors affecting their sustainability. Secondly, it discusses the need to assess the ecosystem services offered by forage- based livestock systems in mountains with particular attention to greenhouse gas emission and its mitigation by carbon sequestration. In conclusion, comparison between the different elements of the environmental sustainability of mountain livestock systems must be based on a comprehensive overview of the relationships among animal husbandry, environment and socio-economic context.
... structure and under similar climatic conditions. They further pointed out that the potential to optimise GHG efficiency on organic farms lies largely in increasing productivity by improving farm management. During the last few decades, many dairy farms in the Italian Alps have abandoned traditional summer grazing of herds in high-altitude pastures. Guerci et al. (2014) compared the traditional summer grazing system to more intensive systems that maintain their lactating cows in the valley barns all year. Summer grazing farms had lower milk production per cow and lower feed efficiency than intensive farms. CF values for the two systems were not significantly different. When land-use change emissions as ...
Article
This paper introduces the Special Volume (SV) dedicated to the 2012 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Food Conference. During recent years, these conferences have seen a rapid increase in the number of participants, reflecting the development of an interdisciplinary research and development community at the intersection between the agronomic, food/nutrition science and environmental system analysis disciplines. This introductory paper summarises the key issues addressed in the individual papers of this SV, which present a balance between methodological and applied studies. The application of LCA to agro-food systems exemplifies a dynamic and productive interaction between scientific disciplines that previously led separate lives. As a result, LCA in the agro-food sector leads LCA methodological developments on topics such as the attributional versus consequential debate, land use changes, impacts on biodiversity, biotic resource depletion, water use, soil quality, and modelling of direct emissions of crop and animal production systems. Future challenges for the LCA Food research and development domain concern the following issues: functional unit and multi-functionality, emission models, land occupation and transformation, LCA for low-income countries, resilience of agro-food systems and presentation and transparency of results.
Article
The development of the carbon footprint (CF) of raw cow milk over time has been scarcely researched. The objectives of this study are (1) to determine the annual raw cow milk CF in the Netherlands between 1990 and 2019 and (2) to identify the factors explaining the development of the raw cow milk CF over time. We applied Life Cycle Assessment (cradle to farm gate) to the average Dutch dairy system and used data collected from national statistics and from the farm accountancy data network. The CF of raw cow milk produced in the Netherlands in 2019 was 992 g CO2-eq. per kg Fat and Protein Corrected Milk (FPCM), while in 1990 it was 1522 g CO2-eq. (kg FPCM)⁻¹. This represents a reduction of 35%. The reduction rate of the CF is affected by the scope of the CF study, i.e. reduction rate is smaller if direct land use change (dLUC) (32%) and soil organic carbon (SOC) balance (29%) are included in the total CF. Methodological choices affect the absolute level of the CF by up to 27%, but the impact on the reduction rate over time is negligible. The results show that continuous improvement in agricultural practices (increased milk and roughage yields, improved feed efficiency and decreased nitrogen application) has played an important role in reducing the CF of milk over the years. Along with this process, the Dutch dairy system has evolved into less grazing and less land devoted to permanent grasslands which decreased carbon sequestration. In order to achieve climate targets, the annual reduction rate needs to be increased and additional efforts are required if the Dutch dairy sector is to play its part in limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. Special attention is needed for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from enteric fermentation and manure storage. However, the main challenge for the future is to find a balanced set of measures to integrally reduce all the sources of GHG emission within the carbon footprint of milk.
Article
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Intensive farming is responsible for extreme environmental impacts under different aspects, among which global warming represents a major reason of concern. This is a quantitative problem linked to the farm size and a qualitative one, depending on farming methods and land management. The dairy sector is particularly relevant in terms of environmental impact, and new approaches to meeting sustainability goals at a global scale while meeting society’s needs are necessary. The present study was carried out to assess the environmental impact of dairy cattle farms based on a life cycle assessment (LCA) model applied to a case study. These preliminary results show the possibility of identifying the most relevant impacts in terms of supplied products, such as animal feed and plastic packaging, accounting for 19% and 15% of impacts, respectively, and processes, in terms of energy and fuel consumption, accounting for 53% of impacts overall. In particular, the local consumption of fossil fuels for operations within the farm represents the most relevant item of impact, with a small margin for improvement. On the other hand, remarkable opportunities to reduce the impact can be outlined from the perspective of stronger partnerships with suppliers to promote the circularity of packaging and the sourcing of animal feed. Future studies may include the impact of drug administration and the analysis of social aspects of LCA.
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This study aimed to evaluate the environmental footprint and feed energy conversion ratio of Alpine dairy chains in the Eastern Alps, taking into account both the milk production and dairy processing phases, and to identify farm management features useful for targeting mitigation measures in the production phase. A cradle-to-farm gate Life Cycle Assessment model that included herd and manure management, on-farm feedstuff production and purchased feedstuffs and materials (dairy farm), and production inputs and dairy outputs (dairy processing) was applied to 75 farms (10 dairies). As functional units, we used 1 kg fat- and protein-corrected milk (FPCM) and 1 m² of agricultural land, to account for production intensity and land managed by alpine farms, respectively. Impact categories (CML-IA and CED methods, background data from Ecoinvent database) assessed were global warming (GWP), GWP plus land-use change (GWP_LUC), acidification (AP) and eutrophication (EP) potentials, cumulative energy demand (CED) and land occupation (LO). Feed energy conversion ratio (whole diet - ECR; potentially human-edible portion of the diet - HeECR) was computed as the ratio between gross energy in feeds and that in milk. Mean ECR was 6.6±0.5 MJ feed/MJ milk, of which only 8% derived from potentially human-edible feedstuffs. For 1 kg of FPCM at the dairy farm, GWP averaged 1.19 kg CO2-eq, GWP_LUC 1.31 kg CO2-eq, AP 17.3 g SO2-eq and EP 6.0 g PO4-eq (coefficients of variation, CV, ranged 17-21%), whereas mean CED was 2.7 MJ and LO 2.1 m²/y (CVs: 40-46%). When dairy processing was included, the impact values for 1 kg of dairy product were from 8 to 13 times greater than those obtained for 1 kg FPCM. Based on the outcomes of a principal component analysis, the farm management features most related to impacts and feed ratios were milk yield (MY, for the impacts per unit of milk and ECR), stocking rate (SR, for the impacts per unit of area), and percentages of concentrates (C, for GWP_LUC and HeECR). Step-wise analysis evidenced that strategies aiming to decrease the environmental footprint referred to milk and managed area at the same time and to improve the feed energy conversion ratios should include MY, SR and C jointly. These issues are particularly important for the sustainability of mountain farming systems, which need to create a virtuous link with local forage resources and the territory.
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Recent studies on milk production have often focused on environmental impacts analysed using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach. In grassland-based livestock systems, soil carbon sequestration might be a potential sink to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) balance. Nevertheless, there is no commonly shared methodology. In this work, the GHG emissions of small-scale mountain dairy farms were assessed using the LCA approach. Two functional units, kg of Fat and Protein Corrected Milk (FPCM) and Utilizable Agricultural Land (UAL), and two different emissions allocations methods, no allocation and physical allocation, which accounts for the co-product beef, were considered. Two groups of small-scale dairy farms were identified based on the Livestock Units (LU) reared: <30 LU (LLU) and >30 LU (HLU). Before considering soil carbon sequestration in LCA, performing no allocation methods, LLU farms tended to have higher GHG emission than HLU farms per kg of FPCM (1.94 vs. 1.59?kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM, P???0.10), whereas the situation was reversed upon considering the m(2) of UAL as a functional unit (0.29 vs. 0.89?kg CO2-eq/m(2), P???0.05). Conversely, considering physical allocation, the difference between the two groups became less noticeable. When the contribution from soil carbon sequestration was included in the LCA and no allocation method was performed, LLU farms registered higher values of GHG emission per kg of FPCM than HLU farms (1.38 vs. 1.10?kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM, P???0.05), and the situation was likewise reversed in this case upon considering the m(2) of UAL as a functional unit (0.22 vs. 0.73?kg CO2-eq/m(2), P???0.05). To highlight how the presence of grasslands is crucial for the carbon footprint of small-scale farms, this study also applied a simulation for increasing the forage self-sufficiency of farms to 100%. In this case, an average reduction of GHG emission per kg of FPCM of farms was estimated both with no allocation and with physical allocation, reaching 27.0% and 28.8%, respectively.
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This study presents a greenhouse gases emissions assessment of soybean cultivation in southern Brazil based on life cycle inventory. Although there are currently some studies on this topic, it is focused in the country level. Nevertheless, there are differences among the producing regions and it’s estimated that for each 20 kg of soybeans produced in Brazil, one is produced in Rio Grande do Sul state. In a previous study, a life cycle inventory of soybean cultivated in this Brazilian state was developed, nevertheless, the influence of Land Use Change along the life cycle was not taken into account. Therefore, the current study discusses the influence of Direct Land Use Change over the greenhouse gas emissions. The functional unit (FU) employed was 1kg of soybean harvested for a cradle to gate study. For the soybean cultivation, in the scenario related to no land use change (scenario 1), 0.352 kg CO2/FU was emitted. This value increases up to 205% in scenario 2 (in this case, the actual scenario was that 15.4% of soybean cropland area replaced grassland) and 892% in scenario 3 (all land transformation was over forest). In scenario 1, soybean cultivation was responsible for the higher share of the greenhouse gases emissions (42%). The highest contributions in soybean cultivation for greenhouse gases emissions were: liming (37%), fertilization (19%) and seeding (9%).
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The economy and the roles of livestock production within society have changed much in recent years, and this change is set to continue and intensify. Not only beef supply chains, but also animal research and development on the competitiveness of these chains, must have new strategies and revised objectives to meet the challenges. • Globally, livestock production (and specifi cally beef production) plays an important role in maintaining food supplies, especially supply of good-quality protein. In addition, the demand for animal products including meat is increasing, notably in developing countries. • In the 27 member states of the European Union, beef production is slowly declining and the trade balance has been negative since 2003. In the future, the level of beef production will be closely linked to dairy sector dynamics, public policies (World Trade Organization and Common Agriculture Policy), and price balance between crops and animal production. The context in which beef is produced has changed considerably. Some issues (e.g., animal welfare, protection of the environment, pasture-based systems) concern not only cattle but also all types of ruminants. • Recent developments in animal genetics and genomics up to metabolomics will help to investigate the regulation of phenotypic variation in livestock, including the variation in sustainability traits such as effi ciency of nutrient use, emissions (nitrogen, phosphorus, and greenhouse gas), health, product quality, and most important, robustness. • Research should be targeted at practical issues, for instance the development of predictive approaches for the development of precision livestock farming, which has proven to be effi cient at increasing, step by step, the effi ciency of production and consequently competitiveness of the beef supply chain. • Focusing on effi ciency of nutrition is also an important challenge to limit the use and reduce the cost of using high-quality nutrient resources as animal feed that can also be used for human food, and to reduce potentially harmful emissions such as carbon, methane, or nitrogen. The potential to maximize forage utilization by ruminants requires improving our knowledge of forage intake and digestion. However, there is also an increasing demand to evaluate feeds based on multiple criteria including nutrition, product quality, animal health and welfare, traceability, and sustainability. • Because we are using more and more limited natural systems, we should move toward pasture systems and ecologically intensive systems, forcing us to work on the ecological footprint of animals. At the same time, the consequences of global change on livestock systems should be taken into account within our research. • Better animals, better feed, and better nutrient utilization with more autonomous farming systems would ensure better incomes for farmers while protecting the environment and producing typical products of specific and high quality.
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In some Alpine areas dairy farming is going through a process of intensification with significant changes in farming systems. The aim of this study was to investigate environmental performance of a sample of 31 dairy farms in an Alpine area of Lombardy with different levels of intensification. A cradle to farm gate life cycle assessment was performed including the following impact categories: land use, non-renewable energy use, climate change, acidification and eutrophication. From a cluster analysis it resulted that the group of farms with lowest environmental impacts were characterized by low stocking density and production intensity; farms that combined good environmental performances with medium gross margins were characterized also by high feed self-sufficiency and lowland availability. Environmental impacts of dairy farms in the mountain areas could be mitigated by the improvement of forage production and quality and by the practice of summer highland grazing, that significantly reduced eutrophication per kg of milk of the less self-sufficient farms.
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Agriculture and animal husbandry are important contributors to global emissions of greenhouse (GHG) and acidifying gases. Moreover, they contribute to water pollution and to consumption of non-renewable natural resources such as land and energy. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology allows evaluation of the environmental impact of a process from the production of inputs to the final product and to assess simultaneously several environmental impact categories among which GHG emissions, acidification, eutrophication, land use and energy use. The main purpose of this study was to evaluate, using the LCA methodology, the environmental impact of milk production in a sample of 41 intensive Italian dairy farms and to identify, among different farming strategies, those associated with the best environmental performances. The functional unit was 1 kg Fat and Protein Corrected Milk (FPCM). Farms showed characteristics of high production intensity: FPCM, expressed as tonnes per hectare, was 30·8±15·1. Total GHG emission per kg FPCM at farm gate was 1·30±0·19 kg CO2 eq. The main contributors to climate change potential were emissions from barns and manure storage (50·1%) and emissions for production and transportation of purchased feeds (21·2%). Average emission of gases causing acidification to produce 1 kg FPCM was 19·7±3·6 g of SO2 eq. Eutrophication potential was 9·01±1·78 ${\rm PO}_{\rm 4}^{{\rm 3} -} {\rm eq}.$ per kg FPCM on average. Farms from this study needed on average 5·97±1·32 MJ per kg FPCM from non-renewable energy sources. Energy consumption was mainly due to off-farm activities (58%) associated with purchased factors. Land use was 1·51±0·25 m2 per kg FPCM. The farming strategy based on high conversion efficiency at animal level was identified as the most effective to mitigate the environmental impact per kg milk at farm gate, especially in terms of GHG production and non-renewable energy use per kg FPCM.
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The Alpine region registered a substantial abandonment of farms (- 40 %) between 1980 and 2000. Both Alpine regions with a relatively stable situation (AT, CH) and regions with significant agricultural changes (IT, SI) exist next to each other. The agro-struc- tural change has led to profound changes in operational structures (enlargement of farms, abandonment of utilised agricultural areas, varying shares of socio-economic farm types). This resulted from various cultural (e.g. related- ness to agricultural traditions, identification of the society with agriculture), agro-political (e.g. Common Agricultural Policy/ WTO) and eco- nomic (e.g. non-agricultural income possibili- ties), and operational (e.g. farm-size) driving forces. Next to major national and regional dif- ferences within the Alpine Region (e.g. mode- rate and high farm abandonment), they also face parallels with regard to the change in their agricultural structure (i.e. farm abandonment and increasing farm-size of the remaining farms). Compared to the Alpine-wide average of the changes in the number of farms and the uti- lised agricultural area (1980-2000), moderate (AT/CH/DE), dynamic (IT/SI), and uncorre-
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The livestock sector contributes considerably to global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Here, for the year 2007 we examined GHG emissions in the EU27 livestock sector and estimated GHG emissions from production and consumption of livestock products; including imports, exports and wastage. We also reviewed available mitigation options and estimated their potential. The focus of this review is on the beef and dairy sector since these contribute 60% of all livestock production emissions. Particular attention is paid to the role of land use and land use change (LULUC) and carbon sequestration in grasslands. GHG emissions of all livestock products amount to between 630 and 863 Mt CO2 e, or 12-17% of total EU27 GHG emissions in 2007. The highest emissions aside from production, originate from LULUC, followed by emissions from wasted food. The total GHG mitigation potential from the livestock sector in Europe is between 101 and 377 Mt CO2 e equivalent to between 12 and 61% of total EU27 livestock sector emissions in 2007. A reduction in food waste and consumption of livestock products linked with reduced production, are the most effective mitigation options, and if encouraged, would also deliver environmental and human health benefits. Production of beef and dairy on grassland, as opposed to intensive grain fed production, can be associated with a reduction in GHG emissions depending on actual LULUC emissions. This could be promoted on rough grazing land where appropriate.
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The objective of this study was to conduct a life-cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a typical nongrazing dairy production system in Eastern Canada. Additionally, as dairying generates both milk and meat, this study assessed several methods of allocating emissions between these coproducts. An LCA was carried out for a simulated farm based on a typical nongrazing dairy production system in Quebec. The LCA was conducted over 6 yr, the typical lifespan of dairy cows in this province. The assessment considered 65 female Holstein calves, of which 60 heifers survived to first calving at 27 mo of age. These animals were subsequently retained for an average of 2.75 lactations. Progeny were also included in the analysis, with bulls and heifers in excess of replacement requirements finished as grain-fed veal (270 kg) at 6.5 mo of age. All cattle were housed indoors and fed forages and grains produced on the same farm. Pre-farm gate GHG emissions and removals were quantified using Holos, a whole-farm software model developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and based on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change Tier 2 and 3methodologies with modifications for Canadian conditions. The LCA yielded a GHG intensity of 0.92 kg of CO(2) Eq/kg of fat- and protein-corrected milk yield. Methane (CH(4)) accounted for 56% of total emissions, with 86% originating from enteric fermentation. Nitrous oxide accounted for 40% of total GHG emissions. Lactating cows contributed 64% of total GHG emissions, whereas calves under 12 mo contributed 10% and veal calves only 3%. Allocation of GHG emissions between meat and milk were assessed as (1) 100% allocation to milk, (2) economics, (3) dairy versus veal animals, and (4) International Dairy Federation equation using feed energy demand for meat and milk production. Comparing emissions from dairy versus veal calves resulted in 97% of the emissions allocated to milk. The lowest allocation of emissions to milk (78%) was associated with the International Dairy Federation equation. This LCA showed that greatest reductions in GHG emissions would be achieved by applying mitigation strategies to reduce enteric CH(4) from the lactating cow, with minimal reductions being achievable in young stock. Choice of coproduct allocation method can also significantly affect the relative allocation of GHG emissions to milk and meat.
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Background, Aim and ScopeSoybean meal is an important protein input to the European livestock production, with Argentina being an important supplier. The area cultivated with soybeans is still increasing globally, and so are the number of LCAs where the production of soybean meal forms part of the product chain. In recent years there has been increasing focus on how soybean production affects the environment. The purpose of the study was to estimate the environmental consequences of soybean meal consumption using a consequential LCA approach. The functional unit is ‘one kg of soybean meal produced in Argentina and delivered to Rotterdam Harbor’. Materials and Methods Soybean meal has the co-product soybean oil. In this study, the consequential LCA method was applied, and co-product allocation was thereby avoided through system expansion. In this context, system expansion implies that the inputs and outputs are entirely ascribed to soybean meal, and the product system is subsequently expanded to include the avoided production of palm oil. Presently, the marginal vegetable oil on the world market is palm oil but, to be prepared for fluctuations in market demands, an alternative product system with rapeseed oil as the marginal vegetable oil has been established. EDIP97 (updated version 2.3) was used for LCIA and the following impact categories were included: Global warming, eutrophication, acidification, ozone depletion and photochemical smog. ResultsTwo soybean loops were established to demonstrate how an increased demand for soybean meal affects the palm oil and rapeseed oil production, respectively. The characterized results from LCA on soybean meal (with palm oil as marginal oil) were 721 gCO2 eq. for global warming potential, 0.3 mg CFC11 eq. for ozone depletion potential, 3.1 g SO2 eq. for acidification potential, −2 g NO3 eq. for eutrophication potential and 0.4 g ethene eq. for photochemical smog potential per kg soybean meal. The average area per kg soybean meal consumed was 3.6 m2year. Attributional results, calculated by economic and mass allocation, are also presented. Normalised results show that the most dominating impact categories were: global warming, eutrophication and acidification. The ‘hot spot’ in relation to global warming, was ‘soybean cultivation’, dominated by N2O emissions from degradation of crop residues (e.g., straw) and during biological nitrogen fixation. In relation to eutrophication and acidification, the transport of soybeans by truck is important, and sensitivity analyses showed that the acidification potential is very sensitive to the increased transport distance by truck. DiscussionThe potential environmental impacts (except photochemical smog) were lower when using rapeseed oil as the marginal vegetable oil, because the avoided production of rapeseed contributes more negatively compared with the avoided production of palm oil. Identification of the marginal vegetable oil (palm oil or rapeseed oil) turned out to be important for the result, and this shows how crucial it is in consequential LCA to identify the right marginal product system (e.g., marginal vegetable oil). Conclusions Consequential LCAs were successfully performed on soybean meal and LCA data on soybean meal are now available for consequential (or attributional) LCAs on livestock products. The study clearly shows that consequential LCAs are quite easy to handle, even though it has been necessary to include production of palm oil, rapeseed and spring barley, as these production systems are affected by the soybean oil co-product. Recommendations and PerspectivesWe would appreciate it if the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment had articles on the developments on, for example, marginal protein, marginal vegetable oil, marginal electricity (related to relevant markets), marginal heat, marginal cereals and, likewise, on metals and other basic commodities. This will not only facilitate the work with consequential LCAs, but will also increase the quality of LCAs.
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Milk yield per cow has continuously increased in many countries over the last few decades. In addition to potential economic advantages, this is often considered an important strategy to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kg of milk produced. However, it should be considered that milk and beef production systems are closely interlinked, as fattening of surplus calves from dairy farming and culled dairy cows play an important role in beef production in many countries. The main objective of this study was to quantify the effect of increasing milk yield per cow on GHG emissions and on other side effects. Two scenarios were modelled: constant milk production at the farm level and decreasing beef production (as co-product; Scenario 1); and both milk and beef production kept constant by compensating the decline in beef production with beef from suckler cow production (Scenario 2). Model calculations considered two types of production unit (PU): dairy cow PU and suckler cow PU. A dairy cow PU comprises not only milk output from the dairy cow, but also beef output from culled cows and the fattening system for surplus calves. The modelled dairy cow PU differed in milk yield per cow per year (6000, 8000 and 10 000 kg) and breed. Scenario 1 resulted in lower GHG emissions with increasing milk yield per cow. However, when milk and beef outputs were kept constant (Scenario 2), GHG emissions remained approximately constant with increasing milk yield from 6000 to 8000 kg/cow per year, whereas further increases in milk yield (10 000 kg milk/cow per year) resulted in slightly higher (8%) total GHG emissions. Within Scenario 2, two different allocation methods to handle co-products (surplus calves and beef from culled cows) from dairy cow production were evaluated. Results showed that using the 'economic allocation method', GHG emissions per kg milk decreased with increasing milk yield per cow per year, from 1.06 kg CO2 equivalents (CO2eq) to 0.89 kg CO2eq for the 6000 and 10 000 kg yielding dairy cow, respectively. However, emissions per kg of beef increased from 10.75 kg CO2eq to 16.24 kg CO2eq due to the inclusion of suckler cows. This study shows that the environmental impact (GHG emissions) of increasing milk yield per cow in dairy farming differs, depending upon the considered system boundaries, handling and value of co-products and the assumed ratio of milk to beef demand to be satisfied.
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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their potential effect on the environment has become an important national and international issue. Dairy production, along with all other types of animal agriculture, is a recognized source of GHG emissions, but little information exists on the net emissions from dairy farms. Component models for predicting all important sources and sinks of CH(4), N(2)O, and CO(2) from primary and secondary sources in dairy production were integrated in a software tool called the Dairy Greenhouse Gas model, or DairyGHG. This tool calculates the carbon footprint of a dairy production system as the net exchange of all GHG in CO(2) equivalent units per unit of energy-corrected milk produced. Primary emission sources include enteric fermentation, manure, cropland used in feed production, and the combustion of fuel in machinery used to produce feed and handle manure. Secondary emissions are those occurring during the production of resources used on the farm, which can include fuel, electricity, machinery, fertilizer, pesticides, plastic, and purchased replacement animals. A long-term C balance is assumed for the production system, which does not account for potential depletion or sequestration of soil carbon. An evaluation of dairy farms of various sizes and production strategies gave carbon footprints of 0.37 to 0.69kg of CO(2) equivalent units/kg of energy-corrected milk, depending upon milk production level and the feeding and manure handling strategies used. In a comparison with previous studies, DairyGHG predicted C footprints similar to those reported when similar assumptions were made for feeding strategy, milk production, allocation method between milk and animal coproducts, and sources of CO(2) and secondary emissions. DairyGHG provides a relatively simple tool for evaluating management effects on net GHG emissions and the overall carbon footprint of dairy production systems.
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This research aimed to study the relationships between livestock systems, landscape maintenance and farming styles in the Belluno Province, a mountainous area of the Eastern Italian Alps. A total of 65 farms were sampled on the basis of livestock category farmed and herd size. Farms were visited to collect information on technical and productive aspects, on landscape features of land managed, which was identified by aerial photographs and digitised in a GIS environment, and on the farmers’ background, attitudes and approach to farming. Six different livestock systems were identified: intensive beef cattle (2 farms); extensive beef cattle (12 farms); large sheep/goat farms (9 farms); small sheep/goat farms (6 farms); intensive dairy cattle (14 farms) and extensive dairy cattle (22 farms). The intensive systems had larger herds, modern structures and equipment, and were strongly production oriented, whereas the extensive systems had smaller herds and productivity, with often traditional or obsolete structures and equipment, but showed a tendency to diversify production by means of on-farm cheese making and/or mixed farming of different livestock categories. The ability to maintain meadows and pastures was greater for the extensive systems, especially in steep areas, while the annual nitrogen output, estimated as kg N/ha, was lower. Data on the farmers’ background and attitudes were analysed with a non-hierarchical cluster procedure that clustered the farmers into 4 farming styles widely different in motivations to farming, innovative capability, and ability to diversify income sources and ensure farm economic viability. The farming styles were distributed across all livestock systems, indicating the lack of a linkage between the assignment of a farm to a livestock system and the way the farm is managed. This study demonstrates that in mountain areas variability of livestock systems may be high, and that they differ not only in production practices but also in the ability to maintain landscape, which is generally higher in the extensive or even marginal systems. Within a given livestock system, farms may be managed with different styles, which implies that informative knowledge to address policy decisions needs to integrate the definition of livestock systems with the assessment of farming styles.
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We investigated the most relevant variables for estimating pasture intake and total dry matter (DM) intake in grazing dairy cows using 27 previously published studies. Variables compared were pasture allowance, days in milk, amount of forage, amount of concentrate and total supplementation, pasture allowance and supplementation interaction, fat-corrected milk, body weight (BW), metabolic BW, daily change in BW, percentage of legumes in pasture, neutral detergent fiber (NDF) contents of pasture, and NDF in pasture selected. The variables were selected using stepwise regression analysis for total DM intake and pasture DM intake. Variables selected in the total DM intake regression equation (R2 = 0.95) were pasture allowance, total supplementation, interaction of pasture allowance and supplementation, fat-corrected milk, BW, daily change in BW, percentage of legumes and pasture NDF content. Pasture DM intake regression equation (R2 = 0.90) was similar to total DM intake equation, but supplementation coefficient was negative, showing substitution effect in supplementing grazing cows. The intake of NDF as a percentage of BW was higher than 1.3% when considering NDF content of the pasture allowance. Low pasture allowance groups had values higher than 1.3%.
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The Alpine region registered a substantial abadonment of farms (- 40 %) between 1980 and 2000. Both Alpine regions with a relatively stable situation (AT, CH) and regions with significant agricultural changes (IT, SI) exist next to each other. The agro-structural change has led to profound changes in operational structures (enlargement of farms, abandonment of utilised agricultural areas, varying shares of socio-economic farm types). This resulted from various cultural (e.g. relatedness to agricultural traditions, identification of the society with agriculture), agro-political (e.g. Common Agricultural Policy/WTO) and economic (e.g. non-agricultural income possibilities), and operational (e.g. farm-size) driving forces. Next to major national and regional differences within the Alpine Region (e.g. moderate and high farm abandonment), they also face parallels with regard to the change in their agricultural structure (i.e, farm abandonment and increasing farm-size of the remaining farms). Compared to the Alpine-wide average of the changes in the number of farms and the utilised agricultural area (1980-2000), moderate (AT/CH/DE), dynamic (IT/SI), and uncorrelated (FR) were observed.
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Two most critical factors to address in environmental system analysis of future milk production are 1) the link between milk and beef production, and 2) the competition for land, possibly leading to land use change (LUC) with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and loss of biodiversity as important implications. Different methodological approaches concerning these factors, in studies on environmental impacts of dairy production, sometimes lead to contradictory results.Increasing milk yield per cow is often one of the solutions discussed in order to reduce GHG emissions from milk production. However, when also accounting for other systems affected (e.g. beef production) it is not certain that an increase in milk yield per cow leads to a reduction in total GHG emissions per kg milk. In the present study the correlation between carbon footprint (CF) of milk and the amount of milk delivered per cow is investigated for 23 dairy farms (both organic and conventional) in Sweden. Use of a fixed allocation factor of 90% (based on economic value) indicates a reduction in CF with increased milk yield, while no correlation can be noted when system expansion is applied. The average CF for two groups of farms, organic and high yielding conventional, is also calculated. When conducting system expansion the CF is somewhat lower for the organic farms (which have a lower milk yield per cow, but more meat per kg milk), but when a 90% allocation factor is used, the CF is somewhat higher for the organic farms compared to the high yielding conventional farms. In analysis of future strategies for milk production, it is suggested that system expansion should be applied, in order to also account for environmental impacts from affected systems. Thus, scenarios for milk and meat production should be analysed in an integrated approach in order to reduce total emissions from the livestock sector.How to account for emissions from LUC is highly debated and there is no current shared consensus. Different LUC methods result in significantly different results. In this study, four different LUC methods are applied, using data for organic milk production and high yielding conventional milk production systems in Sweden. Depending on which LUC method was applied, the organic system showed about 50% higher or 40% lower CF compared to the conventional high yielding system. Thus, when reporting CF numbers, it is important to report LUC-factors separately and clearly explain the underlying assumptions, since the method of accounting for LUC can drastically change the results.
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â–º Life cycle assessment assesses environmental impacts (pollutants and resource use). â–º Generally, all environmental impacts were greater for the confinement system. â–º Aerobically storing manure or feeding domestic concentrate reduced environmental impacts. â–º Model results were strongly influenced by modelling assumptions and decisions. â–º More direct comparisons, using a greater number of farms are required.
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In many European mountain areas, such as the Alps, highland grazing is declining. In addition to its effect on natural landscape and biodiversity, abandoning highland grazing may affect dairy-farm profitability and have environmental consequences in the lowland. The objective of this study was to assess economic and environmental effects of abandoning highland grazing of dairy herds in the central Italian Alps. We compared environmental and economic indicators of 12 farms that applied highland grazing (HG) of dairy cows with those of 16 farms that applied no grazing (NG), neither in highland nor in lowland. Environmental indicators used were nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) surplus per ha of land or per ton of FCM (fat-corrected milk). Economic indicators used were labor income of the farm family (k€ per farm) or labor income per ton of FCM (€ton−1 FCM). Compared with HG farms, NG farms had larger total milk production (370.7 vs 141.4ton FCM), higher production per ha (13.9 vs 8.4tonFCMha−1) and higher annual milk yield per cow (6.3 vs 4.4ton FCM). Because of the extensive manner of milk production in highland of HG farms, the NP surplus per ha of highland was negligible (6.4N and −0.2Pha−1year−1), and, therefore, not further considered. The N surplus averaged 186kgNha−1year−1 for NG farms compared with 137kgNha−1year−1 for lowland of HG farms. The P surplus averaged 30kgPha−1year−1 for NG farms compared with 24kgPha−1year−1 for lowland of HG farms. A high milk production per ha and a low % FSS (feed self-sufficiency) were associated with a high NP surplus, whereas the grazing system did not affect NP surplus per ha. Labor income per farm was lower for HG farms (30.3k€) than for NG farms (72.2k€), but expressed in euro per ton FCM, labor income was higher for HG (0.24€) than for NG farms (0.16€). A smaller farm size in the lowland and a lower milk production per ha lowland explained the lower labor income for HG farms compared with NG farms. Additional revenues from highland grazing, i.e. high-value cheese and grazing subsidies, caused higher labor income per ton FCM for HG than for NG farms. Hence, farmers tend to increase their net farm income by increasing their milk production per farm, via increasing their area of lowland and/or their milk production per ha lowland, while at the same time they abandon highland grazing. As enlargement of the lowland area is hampered by increasing urbanization of the valleys of the Italian Alps, farmers probably will increase their milk production per ha lowland. A higher milk production per ha lowland, however, will increase the environmental impact in the lowlands.
Article
This paper documents and illustrates a model to estimate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and land use on commercial dairy farms. Furthermore, a method of allocating total farm emissions into meat and milk products was developed and, finally, potential mitigation options at farm scale were identified. The GHG emission at farm gate using a Life Cycle Approach (LCA) was estimated based on data from 35 conventional dairy farms with an average 122 cows and 127ha, and 32 organic dairy farms with an average 115 cows and 178ha. There was a significant (p
Article
The animal food chain contributes significantly to emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs). We explored studies that addressed options to mitigate GHG emissions in the animal production chain and concluded that most studies focused on production systems in developed countries and on a single GHG. They did not account for the complex interrelated effects on other GHGs or their relation with other aspects of sustainability, such as eutrophication, animal welfare, land use or food security. Current decisions on GHG mitigation in animal production, therefore, are hindered by the complexity and uncertainty of the combined effect of GHG mitigation options on climate change and their relation with other aspects of sustainability. There is an urgent need to integrate simulation models at animal, crop and farm level with a consequential life cycle sustainability assessment to gain insight into the multidimensional and sometimes conflicting consequences of GHG mitigation options.Highlights► Most studies that address options to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the animal production focus on systems in developed countries and on a single GHG. ► Current decisions on GHG mitigation in animal production are hindered by the complexity and uncertainty of the combined effect of GHG mitigation options on climate change and their relation with other aspects of sustainability. ► There is an urgent need to integrate simulation models at animal, crop and farm level with a consequential life cycle sustainability assessment to gain insight into the multidimensional and sometimes conflicting consequences of GHG mitigation options.
Article
The objective of this study was to compare two standard methodologies, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) method and life cycle analysis (LCA), for quantifying greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from dairy farms. Both methods were applied to model the GHG emissions from 9 dairy farm systems differing in strain of Holstein-Friesian cow and type of grass-based feed systems using the physical performance findings of previously published work. The strains of Holstein-Friesian cow used were; high milk production North American (HP), high fertility and survival (durability) North American (HD), and New Zealand (NZ). The alternate grass-based feed systems were; high grass allowance (HG, control); high stocking rate (HS) and high concentrate supplementation (HC). The milk production systems were modelled using a previously developed integrated economic-GHG farm model. The model calculated GHG emissions using the LCA approach and was extended to quantify GHG emissions using the IPCC method. The study found that the method of reporting GHG emissions (per unit of product or per unit area) affected the ranking of emissions of dairy systems investigated. Greenhouse gas emission were greater when calculated using the LCA method rather than the IPCC method. Both methods found reducing inputs or the intensity of dairy production reduced GHG emissions per hectare. When emissions were expressed per unit of product the methodologies did not rank farming systems in the same order. The effect of feed system on emissions per unit of product was inconsistent between methodologies because the IPCC method excludes indirect GHG emissions from farm pre-chains, i.e. concentrate production. Both methodologies agreed that animals selected solely for milk production (HP) had higher GHG emissions per unit of product relative to strains selected on a combination of traits. The results indicate that if dairy systems targeting a net reduction in global GHG for projected increases in meat and milk production are to be developed, a holistic approach such as LCA, should be used to assess emissions on a per unit product basis.Research highlights► The IPCC and LCA methods agreed that the ranking of GHG emissions per unit of product and per unit area was inconsistent (<20%). ► The methods ranked dairy systems GHG emission per unit of product differently. ► Cows selected solely for milk increased emissions per unit of product relative to cows selected based on a combination of traits. ► Reducing the intensity of dairy production reduced emissions per ha.
Article
Background, Goal and ScopeSystem expansion is a method used to avoid co-product allocation. Up to this point in time it has seldom been used in LCA studies of food products, although food production systems often are characterised by closely interlinked sub-systems. One of the most important allocation problems that occurs in LCAs of agricultural products is the question of how to handle the co-product beef from milk production since almost half of the beef production in the EU is derived from co-products from the dairy sector. The purpose of this paper is to compare different methods of handling co-products when dividing the environmental burden of the milk production system between milk and the co-products meat and surplus calves. Main FeaturesThis article presents results from an LCA of organic milk production in which different methods of handling the co-products are examined. The comparison of different methods of co-product handling is based on a Swedish LCA case study of milk production where economic allocation between milk and meat was initially used. Allocation of the co-products meat and surplus calves was avoided by expanding the milk system. LCA data were collected from another case study where the alternative way of producing meat was analysed, i.e. using a beef cow that produces one calf per annum to be raised for one and a half year. The LCA of beef production was included in the milk system. A discussion is conducted focussing on the importance of modelling and analysing milk and beef production in an integrated way when foreseeing and planning the environmental consequences of manipulating milk and beef production systems. ResultsThis study shows that economic allocation between milk and beef favours the product beef. When system expansion is performed, the environmental benefits of milk production due to its co-products of surplus calves and meat become obvious. This is especially connected to the impact categories that describe the potential environmental burden of biogenic emissions such as methane and ammonia and nitrogen losses due to land use and its fertilising. The reason for this is that beef production in combination with milk can be carried out with fewer animals than in sole beef production systems. Conclusion, Recommendation and PerspectiveMilk and beef production systems are closely connected. Changes in milk production systems will cause alterations in beef production systems. It is concluded that in prospective LCA studies, system expansion should be performed to obtain adequate information of the environmental consequences of manipulating production systems that are interlinked to each other.
Article
Purpose This paper investigates different methodologies of handling co-products in life cycle assessment (LCA) or carbon footprint (CF) studies. Co-product handling can have a significant effect on final LCA/CF results, and although there are guidelines on the preferred order for different methods for handling co-products, no agreed understanding on applicable methods is available. In the present study, the greenhouse gases (GHG) associated with the production of 1 kg of energy-corrected milk (ECM) at farm gate is investigated considering co-product handling. Materials and methods Two different milk production systems were used as case studies in the investigation of the effect of applying different methodologies in co-product handling: (1) outdoor grazing system in New Zealand and (2) mainly indoor housing system with a pronounced share of concentrate feed in Sweden. Since the cows produce milk, meat (when slaughtered), calves, manure, hides, etc., the environmental burden (here GHG emissions) must be distributed between these outputs (in the present study no emissions are attributed to hides specifically, or to manure which is recycled on-farm). Different methodologically approaches, (1) system expansion (two cases), (2) physical causality allocation, (3) economic allocation, (4) protein allocation and (5) mass allocation, are applied in the study. Results and discussion The results show large differences in the final CF number depending on which methodology has been used for accounting co-products. Most evident is that system expansion gives a lower CF for milk than allocation methods. System expansion resulted in 63–76% of GHG emissions attributed directly to milk, while allocation resulted in 85–98%. It is stressed that meat is an important by-product from milk production and that milk and beef production is closely interlinked and therefore needs to be considered in an integrated approach. Conclusions To obtain valid LCA/CF numbers for milk, it is crucial to account for by-products. Moreover, if CF numbers for milk need to be compared, the same allocation procedure should be applied.
Article
Nutrient balances are often used to represent nutrient flows and to produce sustainability indicators. A soil surface nutrient budget (at the crop scale) and a farm-gate budget (at the farm scale) were calculated over 41 commercial Italian livestock farms. The objectives were to estimate the N use efficiency of the main farm types using the two balances independently, and to assess and discuss the relationship between the two different budget methods. The N surpluses calculated as a farm-gate balance (FGBS) or at the soil surface scale (CBS) ranked livestock farms in a similar manner. The suckling cow farms (SC) showed the best sustainability, BB (beef breeding) and DC (dairy cow) farms were intermediate, while PB (pig breeding) farms were the worst due to their weaker link between breeding activities and farm crops. The CBS was mainly influenced by the manure input, while the FGBS was mainly influenced by the purchased animal feeding in the PB, BB and DC farms, and by the mineral fertiliser in the SC farms. Other information can be derived from a combination of the N flow quantified in the farm-gate balance and the crop balance; two examples are given concerning an estimation of gaseous losses and of animal N excreta for the different animal categories. It has been concluded that even though N balances cannot be directly used to estimate the actual environmental impact of different farming systems, they remain reliable indicators to help discriminate between different farm types.
Article
New Zealand's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol requires agriculture, including dairy farming, to reduce current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 20% by 2012. A modeling exercise to explore the cumulative impact of dairy management decisions on GHG emissions and profitability is reported. The objective was to maintain production, but reduce GHG emissions per unit of land and product by improving production efficiency. A farm-scale computer model that includes a mechanistic cow model was used to model an average, pasture-based New Zealand farm over different climate years. A mitigation strategy based on reduced replacement rates was first added to this baseline farm and modeled over the same years. Three more strategies were added, improved cow efficiency (higher genetic merit), improved pasture management (better pasture quality), and home-grown maize silage [increased total metabolizable energy (ME) yield and reduced nitrogen intake], and modeled to predict milk production, intakes, methane, urinary-nitrogen, and operational profit. Profit was calculated from 2006/2007 economic data, where milksolids (fat + protein) payout was NZ\$ 4.09 kg−1.1 A nutrient budget model was used with these scenarios and two more strategies added: cows standing on a loafing pad during wet conditions and application of a nitrification inhibitor to pasture (DCD). The nutrient budget model predicted total GHG emissions in CO2 equivalents and included some life cycle analysis of emissions from fertilizer manufacturing, fuel and electricity generation. The simulations suggest that implementation of a combination of these strategies could decrease GHG emissions by 27–32% while showing potential to increase profitability on a pasture-based New Zealand dairy farm. Increasing the efficiency of milk production from forage may be achieved by a combination of high (but realistic) reproductive performance leading to low involuntary culling, using crossbred cows with high genetic merit producing 430 kg milksolids yr−1, and pasture management to increase average pasture and silage quality by 1 MJ ME kg dry matter−1. These efficiency gains could enable stocking rate to be reduced from 3 to 2.3 cows ha−1. Nitrogen from fertilizers would be reduced to less than 50 kg ha−1 yr−1 and include “best practice” application of nitrification inhibitors. Considerable GHG mitigation may be achieved by applying optimal animal management to maximize efficiency, minimize wastage and target N fertilizer use.
Article
An LCA was performed on organic and conventional milk production at the farm level in Sweden. In the study, special focus was aimed at substance flows in concentrate feed production and nutrient flows on the farms. The different feeding strategies in the two forms of production, influence several impact categories. The import of feed by conventional dairy farms often leads to a substantial input of phosphorus and nitrogen. Organic milk production is a way to reduce pesticide use and mineral surplus in agriculture but this production form also requires substantially more farmland than conventional production. For Swedish conditions, however, a large use of grassland for grazing ruminants is regarded positively since this type of arable land use promotes the domestic environmental goals of biodiversity and aesthetic values.
Il mercato della carne dall'allevamento ai consumi domestici
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Life cycle assessment of milk production of 41 intensive dairy farms in north Italy
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Greenhouse gas emissions from production of imported and local cattle feed Life cycle inventories of Swiss and European agricultural production systems
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