The Dairy Roadmap 2018 and sustainable dairy farming
By Francesca Harding
At the end of last month The Dairy Roadmap 10th Anniversary report was launched in the house of commons. Compiled by Dairy UK, the NFU, and AHDB; the report details the progress of the UK dairy sector in improving the sustainability of the industry. First published in 2008, the report documents the progress made in improving the environmental sustainability of dairy farming. Progress made by both dairy farmers and dairy processors is reviewed separately to give a balanced view of the sector.
Importantly, the report found that over the past decade there has been a 24% reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions associated with milk production. This marks a substantial milestone in an industry which is often heavily criticised for its emissions.
As well as covering progress made in climate change and energy, also documented are improvements to water, biodiversity, soil, and air quality. Over the past decade there have been a number of improvements in these areas from both dairy farmers and dairy processors. The progress made within waste management is also covered, with dairy processors reducing the amount of waste they send to landfill from 35% to 4%.
Although many improvements have been made over the past decade, The Dairy Roadmap stresses that there is still more to be done. However, what is particularly positive about these figures is that is shows a willingness within the dairy industry to adapt and change. This increasing numbers of proactive farmers is likely to have a positive impact on other areas of dairy farming too.
This increasing awareness amongst farmers regarding sustainable agriculture will continue to be important with the rapidly expanding global population. The knowledge gained by UK farmers about how to sustainably intensify production whilst minimising the environmental impact, is something which can be shared on the global stage.
This is particularly important with the global population continuing to expand and demand more ‘westernised’ diets, particularly in rapidly developing countries. As dairy production in these areas increases, insight gained by UK farmers regarding sustainable intensification could be valuable. Ensuring that progress to improve the environmental impact of dairy farming continues will be a vital part of the industries future.