Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dairies More Green Than Ever

Study finds modern dairies green, sustainable
Sarah Muirhead

Contrary to the negative image often associated with large farm operations, the U.S. population’s requirements for dairy products is best fulfilled and most sustainable through the application of modern agricultural techniques, a just-released study has shown.

The study, conducted by Drs. Jude Capper and Dale Bauman of Cornell University and Roger Cady, formerly of Monsanto and now with Elanco Animal Health, compared the environmental impact of modern (2007) U.S. dairy production with that of dairy systems in 1944.

Among the findings were that modern dairy practices require considerably fewer resources than dairying in 1944 with 21% of animals, 23% of feedstuffs, 35% of the water and only 10% of the land required to produce the same 1 billion kg of milk.

Waste outputs were similarly reduced, with modern dairy systems producing 24% of the manure, 43% of CH4 and 56% of N2O per billion kg of milk, compared with equivalent milk from historical dairying. Read More

So many times we hear that agriculture is to blame for a myriad of environmental problems. However, the detractors never show the complete picture of the tremendous gains farmers and ranchers have made in reducing our environmental impact. The other important thing to remember is that we made these improvements on our own because it was the right thing to do. Farmers and ranchers were being sustainable environmentalists before it was cool.

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