Reducing environmental footprint is a step in the right direction for dairy and livestock farmers

Reducing the environmental footprint while lowering costs will be the theme of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), Aberystwyth University  stand at the Dairy and Livestock Event being held on the 17th and 18th September at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry. Scientists will be on hand to give practical advice on how measures taken on-farm can not only be of benefit to the environment, but can lead also to cost savings.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are high on the political agenda while impacts of agriculture on nitrate pollution of water courses are also of concern. Mitigation strategies are more likely to be taken up by farmers if they also reduce costs”, says Dr David Davies, Agricultural Outreach Manager.

UK farmers who have seen reduced returns from their enterprises in recent times will learn how measures taken to reduce their environmental footprint can also help them cash in whilst also meeting their cross-compliance obligations.

IBERS research will be featured on breeding varieties of red and white clover which reduce fertiliser use and improve soil quality. Clovers fix atmospheric nitrogen and reduce the fertiliser requirements for grass/clover swards giving a high protein forage.

Breeding forages for the future has been the focus of IBERS’ breeding programmes in recent years. The development of highly digestible grasses with high ME and optimised contents of crude protein and sugar have proven to increase the proportion of nitrogen in the plant that is incorporated into meat and milk according to IBERS Grassland Development Centre Heather McCalman.

“By adding to the supply of fermentable carbohydrate in the rumen, these new varieties can improve the efficiency with which dietary protein is used by the dairy cow”, she added. 

“Increasing the efficiency of rumen processes could also lead to reduced emissions to air of ammonia and the powerful greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide.”

Low cost winter management options for livestock will also be displayed which enable farmers to adapt to climate change scenarios for the West of the UK. Farmers will be prompted to consider crop selection and sequence, grazing control, feed supplements, livestock welfare, soil management along with possible alternatives to housing.

“These practical measures can also help producers meet the concerns of consumers who want their food to be produced by more sustainable methods,” said  Heather McCalman

“We are confident that these approaches will help farmers nationwide to think positively at a difficult time for the industry, and will bring benefits not only for their businesses, but also for the environment.”