2016-08-01  facebooktwitterrss

Opportunity To Cut Dairying Costs

With water contributing as much as 1p per litre of the production cost of milk sold on some UK dairy farms, the availability of a new independently accredited assessment tool to measure and monitor consumption could be a significant cost saver for the industry.

So says Ben Braou, joint business manager with leading environmental consultancy Alltech E-CO2, who adds that issues around scarcity and responsible use are only likely to increase, even in temperate climates, making evidence of efficient use and consumption more and more important.

Measuring water use on dairy units is an important step in improving the efficiency with which this valuable resource is used.

Measuring water use on dairy units is an important step in improving the efficiency with which this valuable resource is used.

“We know that a cow requires between five and seven litres of water to produce a litre of milk, and availability of a clean supply is an essential prerequisite to efficient production,” explains Mr Braou. “However, studies have shown that overall water consumption per litre varies massively on UK dairy units, with the least water-efficient farms consuming three times more than the average. This suggests there is scope to improve water efficiency on some units; by doing so these farms will cut cost of production and avoid unnecessary waste of a valuable resource.”

The new Dairy Aqua-printTM water footprinting tool has been developed by Alltech E-CO2 as an adjunct to its existing carbon and cost of production tools, and can also be used as a stand-alone assessment. It has been accredited by the Carbon Trust to comply with the ISO 14046 standard and the Water Footprint Network (WFN) methodology, ensuring the highest level of accuracy and validity.

Through the assessment, the Dairy Aqua-print tool calculates water consumption based on the number and weight of animals on farm, grazing periods, milk production figures, milk characteristics, milking machine management protocols and the milk storage capacity available. The resulting footprint – and accompanying report – can then be used to facilitate efficient water use and consumption on-farm by comparing metered water to estimated water consumption, or by identifying areas where consumption is above average and savings can be made.

“The ability to maintain tight control of inputs is essential in modern dairy farming, and water is an input – with an associated cost – just like feed, fertiliser or fuel,” adds Mr Braou. “This tool provides an easy but accurate way to measure water consumption per litre of milk production, and then allows farms to benchmark performance and take actions to improve efficiency.

“Resource use efficiency is an increasingly important factor in all food production and is of interest not only to primary producers but to the whole food chain. The ability to monitor use of inputs such as water and demonstrate efficiency will become an essential element of effective management.”


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