From smart farming to mitigating waste, Australia’s peak dairy body, Dairy Australia is committed to #RealClimateAction. Already, the industry has taken significant steps towards tackling climate change. To showcase the incredible work being done along the supply chain, Dairy Australia has released a new report, 30 Ways Australian Dairy is Tackling Climate Change.
Here’s four actions being taken by the industry:
- Perfecting pastures to combat climate change
Pastures with lower fibre and higher soluble carbohydrates can reduce methane production in dairy cows. Ways to improve pasture quality include through plant breeding or by switching from tropical (C4) to temperate (C3) grasses that use different pathways to capture carbon dioxide and contribute to reducing methane emissions.
» Outcome: Improving the quality of pastures results in reduced levels of fibre and greater levels of carbohydrates in the plant. Methane emissions are greater in higher fibre pastures so these improvements towards higher pasture quality,
increase animal performance, milk yield responses and also reduce overall methane production in the rumen.
2. Focus on fertilisers
Nitrogen (N) is critical for pasture growth and many farmers rely on synthetic N fertilisers to get additional nutrients into the soil, but these fertilisers can cause nitrous oxide emissions (a powerful greenhouse gas). To help farmers use nitrogen fertilisers more efficiently, Dairy Australia (DA) established the ‘Fert$mart’ program that aids farmers in developing a strategic, accurate plan for fertiliser use and soil management. Similarly, the ‘More Profit from Nitrogen’ project, part
funded by DA, is also seeking to increase nitrogen use efficiency by validating best practices on-farm that reduce GHG emissions while optimising nitrogen use for pastures.
» Outcome: Farmers are avoiding nitrous oxide emissions by minimising N loss through more efficient fertiliser application and usage. Soil testing on-farm is also helping farmers ensure they are using fertilisers at the right rate, in the right place, and at the right time
3. Reaching for renewables
Australia’s dairy farmers are already adopting renewable energy technologies, such as solar and wind, in a bid to reduce energy costs, promote energy security and reduce GHG emissions. Support for these activities is being made available through various government initiatives and other investors including low-cost loans for energy equipment through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
» Outcome: According to Dairy Australia’s latest farm survey, 71% of farmers have at least one renewable energy installation on their property. Dairy farmers are looking to use renewable energy technologies which is helping to reduce GHG emissions.
4. Glass bottles are back!
Victoria’s Schulz Organic Dairy has been selling its milk in glass bottles since April 2019, reducing the need for plastic and making its milk packaging better for the environment. The bottles include a refundable deposit that aims to have bottles returned, further minimising waste and creating a circular economy. The company also supplies the food service industry with milk in 10L bladders made of soft plastic that are recyclable through RedCycle, and milk in 20L stainless steel milk pails.
» Outcome: By looking at alternative packaging for milk, including the use of glass bottles that are returnable and refillable, tonnes of plastic is being diverted from landfill and recycling systems.
Discover more climate action stories and initiatives from the industry, at Dairy Australia and hear directly from dairy farmer Tess Butler on Australian Farms: Where REAL Climate Action Happens.