Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity per kilogram of milk produced has decreased by 13% between 2000 and 2017.
A joint report by Teagasc, NUIG and the University of California shows that over the last 20 years dairy farmers have made changes to help produce milk with considerably fewer emissions.
The report titled Quotas and Emissions analysed emissions in the wake of the abolition of dairy quotas and expanding herd size.
It pointed out that despite the decrease per kilogram of milk produced, total farm emissions increased by 86% over the period.
The report states: “While this increase in absolute GHG emissions per farm is significant, average milk output per farm has increased by much more (123 %). This suggests that without improvement in environmental efficiency of production, farm-level emissions would have increased to a greater extent."
The report also highlights that economies of scale were at play and that larger farms are not necessarily higher emitters of GHG – rather the authors pointed out that dairy farms could continue to grow but only if they did so through methods identified in the Teagasc MACC curve.
It highlighted the continued work of Teagasc in this area and said that a new initiative – the Teagasc Signpost Programme – is aimed at addressing this issue.