Cost-effectiveness of feeding strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming

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Abstract

The objective of this paper was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of 3 feeding strategies to reduce enteric CH4 production in dairy cows by calculating the effect on labor income at the farm level and on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the chain level (i.e., from production of farm inputs to the farm gate). Strategies included were (1) dietary supplementation of an extruded linseed product (56% linseed; 1 kg/cow per day in summer and 2 kg/cow per day in winter), (2) dietary supplementation of a nitrate source (75% nitrate; 1% of dry matter intake), and (3) reducing the maturity stage of grass and grass silage (grazing at 1,400 instead of 1,700 kg of dry matter/ha and harvesting at 3,000 instead of 3,500 kg of dry matter/ha). A dairy farm linear programing model was used to define an average Dutch dairy farm on sandy soil without a predefined feeding strategy (reference situation). Subsequently, 1 of the 3 feeding strategies was implemented and the model was optimized again to determine the new economically optimal farm situation. Enteric CH4 production in the reference situation and after implementing the strategies was calculated based on a mechanistic model for enteric CH4 and empirical formulas explaining the effect of fat and nitrate supplementation on enteric CH4 production. Other GHG emissions along the chain were calculated using life cycle assessment. Total GHG emissions in the reference situation added up to 840 kg of CO2 equivalents (CO2e) per t of fat- and protein-corrected milk (FPCM) and yearly labor income of €42,605. Supplementation of the extruded linseed product reduced emissions by 9 kg of CO2e/t of FPCM and labor income by €16,041; supplementation of the dietary nitrate source reduced emissions by 32 kg of CO2e/t of FPCM and labor income by €5,463; reducing the maturity stage of grass and grass silage reduced emissions by 11 kg of CO2e/t of FPCM and labor income by €463. Of the 3 strategies, reducing grass maturity was the most cost-effective (€57/t of CO2e compared with €241/t of CO2e for nitrate supplementation and €2,594/t of CO2e for linseed supplementation) and had the greatest potential to be used in practice because the additional costs were low.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2427-2439
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume97
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • nitrous-oxide emissions
  • dietary nitrate supplementation
  • enteric methane mitigation
  • special topics-mitigation
  • milk-production
  • fat supplementation
  • rumen fermentation
  • grazing behavior
  • linseed oil
  • cows

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