4 June 2018 Aurore VAUDATIN

Producing milk using more environmentally friendly practices: farmers and the CRA-W are committed to it

The aim of the Qualaiter project is to measure greenhouse gas emissions and determine how to reduce these emissions for milk production.

Producing milk using more environmentally friendly practices: farmers and the CRA-W are committed to it

Environmental concerns, and economic and social change, have led Walloon milk producers to look for ways to measure and improve their environmental performance. This is borne out by the fact that twenty-six of them took part in this CRA-W study.

Our objective was to quantify environmental performances at system level (Life Cycle Analysis), from various angles (eutrophication, global warming, acidification, energy consumption, use of surfaces, ...) particularly involving sustainable use of the resources. The production of one kg of milk resulted, on average, in the emission of 1.21 kg of CO2 and consumption of 4.35 MJ of energy. Considerable variation was nevertheless observed between the farms surveyed, which potentially implies that some agronomic practices are more favourable to the environment and therefore there are areas for improvement. These have been studied at constant production level and are based on technical optimisation, such as improvement of forage quality combined with a reduction in the amount of concentrates distributed (- 9.5% greenhouse gas emissions), a better use of farmyard manure, leading to a decrease in the use of chemical fertilisers (-12.4% acidifying substances emission), and the installing of a milk pre-cooler (-1.75% fossil energy consumption). The farmers have committed to the environmental progress initiatives under the supervision of the CRA-W. There are techniques to help them achieve this.

Through the provision of the Decide tool, developed by the CRA-W, it is now possible for many farmers to determine the greenhouse gas emission and energy consumption of their farm (see following article).

Date of update 4 June 2018