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Symposium: dairy sector’s steps to understand and address carbon footprint

24.09.2019

Symposium: dairy sector’s steps to understand and address carbon footprint

The second annual EU Sustainable Dairy Symposium took place on Monday 30th September at CAFRE College, Greenmount, with this year’s theme focusing on Carbon Footprint.

The Symposium was hosted by the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland in conjunction with the European Milk Forum as part of their EU Sustainable Dairy Programme, with 100 delegates in attendance.

The keynote speakers were Brian Lindsay, Sustainability Sector Lead for the Global Dairy Platform, and Dr Adam Drewnowski, Professor of Epidemiology and the Director of the Center of Public Health Nutrition at the School of Public Health, University of Washington.

Since 1990, the Northern Ireland dairy sector has reduced fuel and electricity emissions by around 70%, manure emissions by some 27% and enteric fermentation emissions by 30%, with a 50% increase in milk production in the same period.

The dairy sector is making great strides in reducing carbon footprint at the national and international level. The role of Northern Ireland’s grasslands in carbon capture, on farm emissions mitigation measures, the use of renewable energy sources, grassland management, and fertility management focusing on breeding more efficient cows with higher milk yields, all contribute to lowering carbon footprint.

Brian Lindsay of the Global Dairy Platform commended the Northern Ireland dairy audience on its sustainability efforts to date and provided further context for where the sector can go next,

“One of the strengths of the dairy sector’s sustainability initiatives is its ability to provide local solutions to local challenges. Soil sampling, new technology and efficiency measures must be tailored to suit the needs of each individual context.”

He continued,

“The sector is also bolstering its environmental credential through knowledge sharing opportunities and today’s event is the perfect example.”

Dr Mike Johnston, MBE, Dairy Council NI Chief Executive said

“The dairy sector takes its responsibility as the custodians of the land very seriously, and we realise the importance of preserving the planet for future generations. The investment that has been ongoing on dairy farms throughout NI as well as in processing plants is testament to our commitment to producing milk and processing it into nutritious dairy products in ways that are efficient in minimising emissions. The esteemed speakers we have welcomed here today have demonstrated from a global and local perspective, all the advances being made to lower the sector’s carbon footprint and enhance efficiency and sustainability.”

Nutrition expert Professor Adam Drewnowski highlighted the important role that dairy can play in a healthy, sustainable diet based on its nutrient richness, affordability, appeal and environmental credentials.

Other speakers at the Symposium were Dr Debbie McConnell, Dairy grassland researcher at Agri–Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Dr Paul Keatley, Principal Agricultural Economist at the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Case studies shown from dairy processor, Dale Farm, and local farmers Hall Donnell of Ballymagorry, Strabane, and Hugh Harbison of Aghadowey, Coleraine, showcased energy efficiency measures on farm and on the processing site, and demonstrated the efforts made at every juncture of the dairy supply chain to reduce carbon emissions and boost sustainability.

 For more on the EU Sustainable Dairy Programme click here.

 

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