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Lowering the Carbon Footprint of Milk Production at Solohead Research Farm

Following rapid expansion there is an immense challenge to lower the environmental impact of dairy farming. At Solohead Research Farm we have designed and tested systems for lowering the carbon and ammonia footprints of milk production. James Humphreys, Researcher has details in a short video here

Lowering nitrous oxide

Our focus has been on minimising fertilizer N input and maximising nitrogen use efficiency to lower nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions. Nitrous oxide is a very potent greenhouse gas accounting for around 35% of emissions from farms.

  • Maintaining optimum soil fertility is important; particularly soil lime status. We use a trailing shoe for low emissions slurry application and slurry is applied primarily in spring.
  • Biological nitrogen fixation by white and red clover is key to the system because there are little or no nitrous oxide or ammonia emissions from it.
  • Where it is necessary to apply fertilizer nitrogen; it is solely applied as protected urea.

Using these practices we have been able to maintain pasture production and milk output from our farm. We have been able to lower the carbon footprint of milk produced by up to 40% compared with the national average.

Lowering the ammonia footprint

Likewise we have been able to lower the ammonia footprint by up to 50%. These management practices can be immediately adopted by farmers, which is important because there is an urgency in tackling these issues; particularly climate change and water quality. This work is aligned with EU and national policy to lower nitrogen fertilizer use in accordance with the green deal. It’s also important for the image and marketing of our products, which will be increasingly important in future.

Watch as James Humphreys discusses lowering the carbon and ammonia footprints below

Learn more about this ongoing research here at Solohead Farm