Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Grass based Dairy Farms have a Low Carbon Footprint

What is the Carbon Footprint for Milk on your farm? Calculating your onfarm Carbon Footprint for Milk is about to become really important. In December there is a critical International meeting to be held in Copenhagen about how the world is to reduce carbon emissions. Each country (including EU 27) will make key decisions as to how (read at what cost) the carbon emissions are to be reduced. There wont be too much debate about.....do we really need to do this? http://www.actoncopenhagen.decc.gov.uk/en/

Guess what? Agriculture will be targetted as a key industry where reductions must happen. The UK government is looking for a 20% reduction in Agricultural emissions by 2020. This may require a reduction in cow numbers, reduced fertilizer N use, reduced consumption of electricity, oil & fuel, and improvements to herd fertility. Methane emissions from cows & manure waste management are of concern given methane's "Global Warming Potential". Herd fertility is seen as a means of reducing a farm's Carbon Footprint.
Dairy farmers thru out the world (not just the UK) will be held responsible for their carbon emissions......either by reducing carbon emissions or having to buy carbon credits. Carbon credits will be traded probably with a relatively low initial value say 15 Euros but after 2015 the cost of these will almost certainly increase rapidly (perhaps to 60 Euros). This will have a major effect on farm costs.
As electricity generation is a major UK source of current carbon emissions...........you can be very sure that electricity costs will rise & that dairy farmers need to reduce consumption both to control costs & to reduce the Carbon Footprint of their milk production. Every dairy farmer needs to look at ways of reducing electricity such as Heat Recovery Units or Varivac Systems
http://www.corkillsystems.co.nz/ Steve will be at the Dairy Event & available to visit Discussion Groups (talk to Tom)
There are some excellent websites on how to reduce electricity usage http://www.caenz.com/sustain/Downloads/Farmers_Report.pdf
Pasture based dairy farms have a lower Carbon Footprint for MILK. Every Discussion Group now needs to calculate the Carbon Footprint before December. Talk to Tom about this as I have set up spreadsheets for Discussion Groups to use.
On a closely related issue..........Food Security is now a Government topic.....surprise surprise!! There is very good reason for the UK government to be concerned having for decades all but destroyed UK agriculture. It's an outrageous situation in the current 'global warming & climatic uncertain future' that highly productive UK soils are either poorly utilized or even worse.....have ceased to produce food. How Government intends to change this will be very interesting indeed.
There is an excellent BBC program that is very good & well worth watching..."Future of Food" http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00m9xk9/Future_of_Food_Episode_1/
Grass based dairy farmers need to Stand up, Speak up....Grass based dairyfarms already have a low Carbon Footprint & they are less reliant on reducing world stocks of oil!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Keep Mowing Pasture In Front of the Cows...It's that kind of year

Mowing pasture in front of the cows is an excellent daily tool to keep the pasture in top quality. In most years once is enough. This year however most farms in the UK are battling surplus grass & struggling to maintain quality. The quality of pasture being grazed is a direct result of the residual left last grazing. The tighter the residual (1500kgsDM/ha) the better the subsequent quality for milking cows.
The residual must be hard grazed everytime. If that's not possible mowing in front is a good option. It leaves the pasture nice & short, reduces the bloat risk & cows adapt quickly. However it costs money to run the tractor.....so I'm hestitant to recommend a second mowing. Almost every farm I've seen this week needs to regain control so the best option after taking quick cuts of bale silage is to mow again. What's your Pasture Wedge Graph telling you?

In 1975 I invented the term "Pasture Wedge". I was trying to describe the quantity of pasture feed a dairy farm had available at any one time. I thought we needed a simple picture....a little like a silage clamp....a visual picture. I was working with several dairy farm Discussion Groups near Matamata NZ. Little did I nor the late Des Clayton, (a scientist from NZ's Ruakura Research) who I was working with at the time, realise that this concept would be used all around the world by pasture based dairy farmers are they strive for better pasture utilization.
So often it's simple concepts that stick!

I take enormous personal pride that the 'pasture wedge concept' is now a world wide concept used by thinking dairy farmers everywhere. Imagine my joy on coming to the UK 8 years ago to hear progressive farmers talk about the "Magic Spring Day" another 1975 Matamata term that has travelled the world.
The development of the Pasture Wedge Graph a simple excel spreadsheet could almost be described as a giant leap forward for dairy farmers. Now farmers can get control & keep control of their lowest cost input....pasture.

I see that the pasture wedge graph has made it to the USA too.....isnt that fantastic!. http://plantsci.missouri.edu/grazingwedge/ Talking USA here's a grazing website thats worth visiting too. http://www.prograsstinators.com/ A great example of a progressive pasture based dairyfarm Discussion Group.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Question:- Who produces the Champion Cheddar in the UK? Do you know?

Answer:- MilkLink Lockerbie Creamery! Though there are many different classes .... Best Farmhouse Traditional Award went to Quickes Cheese from Devon.
Isnt it great to see a pasture based cheese win yet again. The Best Extra Mature Cheddar was won by my old friends Murray Goulburn Cooperative from Victoria Australia.....yet another grass fed produced cheese.....top of the (world) class!
Last week I ploughed thru the mud at the Nantwich Show to see the famous cheese tent. What a sight, hundreds of cheeses competing for prizes & cups. If I was critical there was lots of cheddar & cheddar look a likes but not enough variety. Where were the amazing range of cheeses now being produced locally. I wanted to see & taste more of the 800 boutique cheeses now produced in the UK. Nantwich is a world recognized cheese show.
I get grumpy when I'm offered a cheese board that is made up of imported cheeses....we all need to complain loudly about where are the local cheeses?
Pasture based or grass fed dairy products often taste better, look better & are better for you. Pasture fed dairy cows produce milk which is higher in Omega 3s. Clover based pastures are rich in nutrients & minerals.
So how proud was I to see Mary Quicke & her farm/cheese team (members of the Hybrids Discussion Group) win Gold Awards. http://www.quickes.co.uk/
How proud was I to meet up with Catherine Mead cheesemaker of Cornish Yarg who along with husband Ben Mead are also pasture based dairy farmers.http://www.lynherdairies.co.uk/
But how sad is it that these people are not recognised Champions within our dairy industry. How sad is it that virtually no one knows who produces the very Best Cheddar in England.
How few farmers know that "Tickler"http://ticklercheese.co.uk/ is a market leader for Milk Link? We are quick to blame others for low milk prices to farmers but if we dont champion our own Champions......who is really to blame its our world class product?