There was an upbeat tone to Neil Dyson’s presentation on cutting greenhouse gas emissions when he spoke to NI dairy farmers during a CAFRE webinar on Tuesday evening.
The advice from the Buckinghamshire dairy farmer was to focus on reducing emissions by improving efficiencies within the farm gate.
“I strongly believe that we, as dairy farmers, are part of the solution by producing high-energy, high-protein, easily digestible food,” Dyson said.
“If we concentrate on the things that we can change at the moment, and don’t worry about the things we can’t change right now, as time goes on, I’m sure solutions will come along,” he maintained.
The latest figures show that the carbon footprint of milk produced on the farm is 1.09 CO2kg/litre
Dyson milks 450 Holstein cows, with average milk yield currently sitting at 9,600l at 4.57% butterfat and 3.37% protein. The farm is involved in a carbon benchmarking programme with its milk buyer, Arla.
The latest figures show that the carbon footprint of milk produced on the farm is 1.09 CO2kg/litre, which is just below the average for Arla’s suppliers in the UK.
A breakdown of the farm’s carbon footprint shows that 0.46 CO2kg/litre is down to methane emissions from livestock, 0.43 CO2kg/litre is due to feed supply, 0.13 CO2kg/litre comes from slurry storage, and 0.05 CO2kg/litre is due to energy use.
“What we have realised is the more efficient we are, the better our carbon footprint,” Dyson said.
He gave the example of a novel technology which has been installed on his farm for treating slurry, known as The N2 Treatment Plant.
We nearly double the amount of nitrogen that is available in the slurry
It uses a high electric voltage to split nitrogen gas which then reacts with ammonia in the slurry. This forms stable compounds that are not emitted into the atmosphere and are able to stay in the acidified slurry until the grass plant takes it up.
“We nearly double the amount of nitrogen that is available in the slurry. There is an additional benefit in that methane is not released, so it helps reduce our carbon footprint,” Dyson explained.
“It is an example of a near-market solution that we might have on our farms. It could be exciting in the future,” he said.