Caring Pasture Based Dairy Farmers Encourage Biodiversity
Biodiversity on pasture based dairy farms is seriously important. If dairyfarmers are seen by the public to be caring for the environment & making a special effort to protect the biodiversity, this too is a major PR with our consumers. There are very strong arguments for farmers to protect biodiversity as well as enjoying it for its own sake. The farms are both our homes & our work places.
Ben & Jerry the ice cream makers have established the “Caring Dairy” Program with Sustainable Indicators. Most pasture based dairyfarmers would embrace this program & agree fully with the targets. Sustainability Indicators: measuring sustainability performance
“Caring Dairy” has developed 11 sustainability indicators. For each indicator, measurement points or parameters have been defined that enable actual performance measurement. Each Caring Dairy farmer determines the focus of his improvement plan based on the farm situation – such as soil type, land division situation, farm strategy – and personal priorities. http://www.benjerry.co.uk/caringdairy/11indicators.php Biodiversity Agriculture has shaped most ecosystems in the world, and biodiversity can be improved or reduced by agricultural practices. Some biodiversity is highly beneficial for agriculture. Sustainable practices can improve biodiversity - by `greening the edges' of the field. Examples of parameters: 1) Level of biodiversity on site: number of species (e.g., birds, butterflies) and varieties (e.g. grass); farm landscape; habitat for natural predator systems (e.g., hedgerows, ponds, non-cropped areas) 2) Level of biodiversity off-site: cross-boundary effects.
Apart from its intrinsic value, biodiversity has a function in a number of ecological processes highly relevant for food production. These `life support functions' of biodiversity include the soil nutrient cycles & regulation of pests by means of biological control. Agrotechnology has broadly increased the independence of these functions at the cost of high inputs of fossil fuel, artificial fertilisers and pesticides. The concept of `sustainable' agriculture aims to re-establish equilibrium: life support functions and technology should be farm attributes of equal importance. Here, the integration of farming and nature comes into play. Australian studies in Gippsland, Victoria have shown that: - Sheltered pastures lose 12 mm of water less than open pastures during the spring growing season. Sheltered areas have increases up to 17% (estimated) in dairy milk production and 20% (estimated) in average annual pasture growth for meat producers.
Sustainable dairy farming is protecting and improving the natural environment, animal welfare, and conditions of the local communities, while at the same time being productive and efficient. http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/24234/1/cp05va03.pdf • Producing milk with a high nutritional quality to meet existing and future needs, while keeping resource inputs as low as possible. • Ensuring that any adverse effects on soil fertility, water and air quality, landscape and biodiversity from dairy farming activities are minimised and positive contributions are made where possible. • Optimising the use of renewable resources while minimising the use of non-renewable resources. • Sustainable dairy farming should enable local communities to protect and improve their well-being and environments. • Sustainable dairy farming should ensure an optimal well-being of the animals (cows).
Profitable pasture based dairyfarmers need to show the world that they care for their environment & that they want to encourage biodiversity. Unprofitable dairyfarmers are not in that position. Quote:- "If you are in the Red its very hard to be Green" Current UK Pasture Measurements Pasture growth still very variable dependant on rain. You have either had it or still waiting for it! TheAverage Pasture Cover (kgsDM/ha) & Pasture Growth (kgsDM/ha/day) Scotland, South Ayrshire, Average Farm Cover 2420, Pasture growth rates this week 91kgsDM/ha/day North Wales, 2220, gr 70. North Wales, 2070, gr 70, just enough rain at right time Cheshire org, 2000, gr 25, 42 day rotation, no rain, feeding silage & cake Staffordshire, 2220, gr 10 Staffordshire, 2100, gr25 burning up fast need lots of rain East Staffordshire, 2000, zero growth NO RAIN Shropshire, AFC 1947, growth 15 Derbyshire, 2157, gr16 feeding cake & wholecrop, 5mm rain Nottingham, 1800, zero growth, demand 69, going backwards soils very dry Herefordshire org, 2000, gr 20 very dry missing rain Herefordshire org, 2213, gr 37 demand 33, getting dry Herefordshire org, 2090, gr39 demand 40 Gloucestershire, gr 42 down 25kgs on week very dry until 16mm rain Oxfordshire, 2100, gr 29, de 25 15mm rain expecting lift in growth Somerset org, 2470, growth 51 great growth plenty of rain Dorset, 2000, gr 30, plenty of rain yesterday SW Wales, 2170, growth 75 East Sussex, 2100, gr 30, cows dry, 25mm rain yesterday Cornwall, 2610, gr58, taking silage out to lower AFC 2450 Northern Germany organic, AFC 2130, growth 49, 23 day rotation Wet & Warm!
Tom Phillips proudly a Kiwi. I'm based at the New Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management, Massey University, New Zealand.The Centre is a joint project of both Massey & Lincoln Universities. International Low Cost Pasture based Dairy Industry Consultant has worked in New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Ireland & France.Expert in grazing management & dairy farm business management,Onfarm Discussion Group facilitation & training.
I am a strong advocate for pasture based dairy farming partly because it is environmentally & animal friendly with a low carbon footprint but also it creates a profitable strong business which is family friendly.