Technological watch

Climate-Smart Holistic Management System Criteria’s Effectiveness on Milk Production in Lithuania

One of the problematic sectors according to GHG (greenhouse gas) and ammonia (NH3) emission quantities is agriculture. Without endangering food production (and intensifying), GHG emissions come from all sources in animal husbandry. The aim of this study was to comprehensively reduce GHG emissions by applying a holistic process management model to one of the most popular cowsheds in Lithuania (260-seat boxing cowshed, cows are milked on site, computerized management of technological processes, productivity of 8600 kg of milk, barn system, and liquid manure). Considering the cow keeping technology applied on the farm, the equipment used, and the feed production and ration system, a model for the management of technological parameters of production processes was prepared for the farm. This model balanced trade-offs among animal welfare, cow productivity, production costs, and GHG and NH3 emissions. The aim of the research was the adaptation of the integrated model to fully control, manage, and optimize milk production processes through bio- and engineering innovations to implement climate-friendly feed production and feeding and feed rationing systems, to improve animal housing and working conditions, and to reduce GHG and NH3 emissions without increasing production costs. The environmental impact assessment was performed with SimaPro 9.1 process modeling software. Data from milk production, biomass cultivation, and feed preparation, transportation, and equipment were used from the Ecoinvent v3 database. Based on the LML-I calculation methodology, the effect of processes was determined. To quantify the potential emissions in the dairy farm, the emission factors were estimated using a life cycle assessment method per functional unit—1000 kg—of standardized milk. Grass silage, maize silage, and feed concentrate were found to account for the largest share of gas emissions—26.09% (107.39 kg CO2 eq. FU−1), 22.70% (93.44 kg CO2 eq. FU−1), and 21.85% (89.92 kg CO2 eq. FU−1) of the total CO2 emissions during the process, respectively. Considering the critical points of the classic SC scenario, the cultivation technology was adjusted, where 50% of N fertilizers were replaced by bioproducts (biological preparations). Both scenarios—classic SC (control variant) and Bio SC (variants using bioproducts)—were evaluated for comparison. The use of biopreparations in the categories reduced the environmental impact from 0.1% to 45.7% in dairy production technology grass silage, barley grain, hay production, and corn silage stocks. The carbon footprint of the sustainable bio-based milk production (0.393 kg CO2 eq. kg−1 FPCM (fat- and protein-adjusted milk)) was lower by 4.6% compared to the average Lithuanian classic dairy farm (0.412 kg CO2 eq. kg−1 FPCM). Based on this methodology, it is possible to assess many dairy farms and address critical points in an integrated way, which can help to improve the quality of dairy production and the environment.

Publication date: 02/06/2022

Author: Vilma Naujokien?

Reference: doi: 10.3390/agriculture12060804



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.