Project title

Feeding strategies to decrease methane emissions and carbon footprint of dairy cows in Belgium, Luxembourg and Denmark

Project objectives

It il usually considered that agriculture is responsible for 14,5% of the production of greenhouse gases (GHG) (FAO, 2014). Out of these, methane mainly produced by dairy cows represents 44% of total emissions. On the other hand, the particular digestive tract with the presence of the rumen allows the ruminants to convert forage even of poor quality into milk and meat. For that reason, cattle are important for the global production of protein and fat, especially in countries where climate is fit for a high proportion of grasslands. In addition grasslands can be a substantial C-sink, also contributing to reduction of the Carbon Footprint (CF).

  1. The first objective of this project is to contribute to mitigation of Climate Impact and to decrease the GHG emissions in dairy farming, by optimizing the feeding strategies for winter (barn feeding) and summer (grazing and supplementary feeding).This objective will be reached by first evaluating different diets using variable amounts of forages distributed as silages or as grazed grass and commercial feeds of diverse compositions in the experimental farm. The best ones regarding methane emissions and CF will be promoted in pilot farms in the 3 countries involved in the project  : Luxembourg, Denmark and Belgium.Furthermore, new techniques allowing precision grazing will be tried out in order to optimize grass valorisation. Attention will be paid to find the best compromise regarding resilience and sustainability including evaluation of LCA of milk.
  2. The second objective will be to contribute to contribute to the conservation of grasslands by highlighting the importance of grassland in dairy farming as potential carbon sink. It aims also to increase grazing practice. It is considered that increase of grasslands, especially multi annual, with respect to carbon storage, and increase of grazing with respect to energy consumption should influence GHG emissions. Monitoring the loss of grasslands and the proportion of grazing dairy cattle in the involved countries will allow to estimate these emissions accounting from land use and from land use change in the three participating countries.
  3. The third objective is to produce guidelines to ensure the dissemination and the transferability of the results of the project. This objective will be reached by publishing a handbook including recommendations on agricultural good practice allowing a reduction in Climate impact and GHG emissions.