Markets (and consumers) are demanding more action from industries in addressing global warming, along with broader environmental issues, such as biodiversity.
GHG emissions represent an inefficiency in dairy systems, whereby energy and nitrogen that could be directed towards production are being lost. Trade-offs are inevitable when practice change is being adopted. Consequently any climate action needs to be embedded across the system/ environment in which dairy businesses' operate.
Global warming will also impact on the natural resources that dairy farming relies on. For example, reduced water in storages, increased water quality issues and water availability are all impacted by reduced rainfall.
This is why Dairy Australia's third Climate Commitment is to Embed climate action with the way we look after the environment.
Australian dairy farmers have always made improvements in how they manage soil, water, fertiliser and biodiversity. More farmers now soil test and use nutrient management plans. They have also fenced off more waterways to protect them from stock and revegetated areas to increase farm biodiversity. These changes have been facilitated by partnerships between farmers, Dairy Australia, milk processors and Regional NRM bodies.
There is increasing consumer, financial and market pressure for linking natural resource management with climate risk.
This work program aims to enhance access to markets and capital for Australian dairy farmers through increased uptake of Australian dairy industry environmental tools and programs that meet the needs of key stakeholders. This requires consideration of the impact of climate change on natural resources over time.
Dairy Australia active projects – Embed
- Sustainable Dairy Products - meeting market and investor needs for evidence based metrics (results by June 2022)
- Dairy High 2 - optimising nitrogen use in dairy (3 year research project)
- Review of voluntary code of practice for Dairy Shed effluent in WA (2021)
- Subtropical dairy resilient farms project (in-kind project)
For more on Dairy Australia's current investments in this area see the Climate Change Strategy - Investment Summary (2021).
Dairy Self-Assessment Tool
The Dairy Self-Assessment Tool (DairySAT) is an environmental self-assessment and action planning tool for Australian dairy farmers.
DairySAT enables farmers and the broader dairy industry to:
- Understand the environmental issues facing dairy farming
- Benchmark on-farm environmental management practices with industry best practice
- Identify the most critical environmental management practices on their farm
- Develop action plans to address the identified practices
- Access further information to understand environmental issues and improve practices on farm
DairySAT is currently being upgraded and will be available online soon (early 2022). For a hard copy please contact us here.
More Profit from Nitrogen
The More Profit from Nitrogen (MPfN) project objective is to enhance the nitrogen use efficiency of intensive cropping and pasture systems is a four year partnership between Australia’s four major intensive users of nitrogenous fertilisers: cotton, dairy, sugar and horticulture. For each of these industries, nitrogen (N) is a significant input cost to farmers and a substantial contributor to environmental footprints. Collectively, the Program aims to bring about increased farm profitability and reduced environmental impact by increasing nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), resulting in a reduction of the amount of N required in producing each unit of product.
This program updated the best management practices for optimising nitrogen use for pastures while avoiding environmental losses, as well as producing economic case studies.
For more information, please download the Best Management Practices for nitrogen (N) fertiliser use on dairy pastures factsheet.
Carbon and Biodiversity Markets
Farmers are land stewards but are rarely recognised for the work that they undertake in managing their land or in reducing their carbon emissions. Carbon and Biodiversity markets have been developed across the world as a mechanism to incentivise emissions reduction or carbon sequestration across industry, including agriculture, giving farmers an opportunity to realise the value of their environmental stewardship.Farmers are also increasingly needing to reduce on-farm emissions to meet industry and supply chain emissions reduction targets, community and finance market expectations.
In Australia, the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fundis the mechanism for developing carbon markets, and the Fund includes several Methods which allow for farmers to either reduce or sequester carbon, and to be paid for doing so. Recently developed Methods of relevance to dairy include animal effluent management methods and soil carbon method. In addition, the Federal Government is also piloting a range of programs through the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package, which are aimed at developing markets for biodiversity credits.
In April 2022, Dairy Australia hosted a webinar specifically for dairy farmers on Identifying On-Farm Opportunities: Carbon and Biodiversity which investigated these opportunities further. This webinar featured the following speakers, as well as a Q&A session:
- Australian Farm Institute
- Dairy Australia
- National Farmers Federation
- Australian Dairy Farmers
- Australian Dairy Products Federation
The following is a recording of the full webinar.