Effect of abandoning highland grazing on nutrient balances and economic performance of Italian Alpine dairy farms

C. Penati, P.B.M. Berentsen, A. Tamburini, A. Sandruci, I.J.M. de Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In many European mountain areas, such as the Alps, highland grazing is declining. In addition to its effect on natural landscape and biodiversity, abandoning highland grazing may affect dairy-farm profitability and have environmental consequences in the lowland. The objective of this study was to assess economic and environmental effects of abandoning highland grazing of dairy herds in the central Italian Alps. We compared environmental and economic indicators of 12 farms that applied highland grazing (HG) of dairy cows with those of 16 farms that applied no grazing (NG), neither in highland nor in lowland. Environmental indicators used were nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) surplus per ha of land or per ton of FCM (fat-corrected milk). Economic indicators used were labor income of the farm family (k€ per farm) or labor income per ton of FCM (€ton-1 FCM). Compared with HG farms, NG farms had larger total milk production (370.7 vs 141.4ton FCM), higher production per ha (13.9 vs 8.4tonFCMha-1) and higher annual milk yield per cow (6.3 vs 4.4ton FCM). Because of the extensive manner of milk production in highland of HG farms, the NP surplus per ha of highland was negligible (6.4N and -0.2Pha-1year-1), and, therefore, not further considered. The N surplus averaged 186kgNha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 137kgNha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. The P surplus averaged 30kgPha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 24kgPha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. A high milk production per ha and a low % FSS (feed self-sufficiency) were associated with a high NP surplus, whereas the grazing system did not affect NP surplus per ha. Labor income per farm was lower for HG farms (30.3k€) than for NG farms (72.2k€), but expressed in euro per ton FCM, labor income was higher for HG (0.24€) than for NG farms (0.16€). A smaller farm size in the lowland and a lower milk production per ha lowland explained the lower labor income for HG farms compared with NG farms. Additional revenues from highland grazing, i.e. high-value cheese and grazing subsidies, caused higher labor income per ton FCM for HG than for NG farms. Hence, farmers tend to increase their net farm income by increasing their milk production per farm, via increasing their area of lowland and/or their milk production per ha lowland, while at the same time they abandon highland grazing. As enlargement of the lowland area is hampered by increasing urbanization of the valleys of the Italian Alps, farmers probably will increase their milk production per ha lowland. A higher milk production per ha lowland, however, will increase the environmental impact in the lowlands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-149
JournalLivestock Science
Volume139
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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economic performance
nutrient balance
dairy farming
highlands
Economics
grazing
Food
Milk
farms
lowlands
milk production
milk fat
surpluses
Fats
income
labor
Farms
Alps region
economic indicators
environmental indicators

Keywords

  • nitrogen use efficiency
  • environmental-policies
  • production systems
  • management
  • phosphorus
  • indicators
  • impact
  • cows
  • sustainability
  • excretion

Cite this

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title = "Effect of abandoning highland grazing on nutrient balances and economic performance of Italian Alpine dairy farms",
abstract = "In many European mountain areas, such as the Alps, highland grazing is declining. In addition to its effect on natural landscape and biodiversity, abandoning highland grazing may affect dairy-farm profitability and have environmental consequences in the lowland. The objective of this study was to assess economic and environmental effects of abandoning highland grazing of dairy herds in the central Italian Alps. We compared environmental and economic indicators of 12 farms that applied highland grazing (HG) of dairy cows with those of 16 farms that applied no grazing (NG), neither in highland nor in lowland. Environmental indicators used were nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) surplus per ha of land or per ton of FCM (fat-corrected milk). Economic indicators used were labor income of the farm family (k€ per farm) or labor income per ton of FCM (€ton-1 FCM). Compared with HG farms, NG farms had larger total milk production (370.7 vs 141.4ton FCM), higher production per ha (13.9 vs 8.4tonFCMha-1) and higher annual milk yield per cow (6.3 vs 4.4ton FCM). Because of the extensive manner of milk production in highland of HG farms, the NP surplus per ha of highland was negligible (6.4N and -0.2Pha-1year-1), and, therefore, not further considered. The N surplus averaged 186kgNha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 137kgNha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. The P surplus averaged 30kgPha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 24kgPha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. A high milk production per ha and a low {\%} FSS (feed self-sufficiency) were associated with a high NP surplus, whereas the grazing system did not affect NP surplus per ha. Labor income per farm was lower for HG farms (30.3k€) than for NG farms (72.2k€), but expressed in euro per ton FCM, labor income was higher for HG (0.24€) than for NG farms (0.16€). A smaller farm size in the lowland and a lower milk production per ha lowland explained the lower labor income for HG farms compared with NG farms. Additional revenues from highland grazing, i.e. high-value cheese and grazing subsidies, caused higher labor income per ton FCM for HG than for NG farms. Hence, farmers tend to increase their net farm income by increasing their milk production per farm, via increasing their area of lowland and/or their milk production per ha lowland, while at the same time they abandon highland grazing. As enlargement of the lowland area is hampered by increasing urbanization of the valleys of the Italian Alps, farmers probably will increase their milk production per ha lowland. A higher milk production per ha lowland, however, will increase the environmental impact in the lowlands.",
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author = "C. Penati and P.B.M. Berentsen and A. Tamburini and A. Sandruci and {de Boer}, I.J.M.",
year = "2011",
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Effect of abandoning highland grazing on nutrient balances and economic performance of Italian Alpine dairy farms. / Penati, C.; Berentsen, P.B.M.; Tamburini, A.; Sandruci, A.; de Boer, I.J.M.

In: Livestock Science, Vol. 139, No. 1-2, 2011, p. 142-149.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Effect of abandoning highland grazing on nutrient balances and economic performance of Italian Alpine dairy farms

AU - Penati, C.

AU - Berentsen, P.B.M.

AU - Tamburini, A.

AU - Sandruci, A.

AU - de Boer, I.J.M.

PY - 2011

Y1 - 2011

N2 - In many European mountain areas, such as the Alps, highland grazing is declining. In addition to its effect on natural landscape and biodiversity, abandoning highland grazing may affect dairy-farm profitability and have environmental consequences in the lowland. The objective of this study was to assess economic and environmental effects of abandoning highland grazing of dairy herds in the central Italian Alps. We compared environmental and economic indicators of 12 farms that applied highland grazing (HG) of dairy cows with those of 16 farms that applied no grazing (NG), neither in highland nor in lowland. Environmental indicators used were nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) surplus per ha of land or per ton of FCM (fat-corrected milk). Economic indicators used were labor income of the farm family (k€ per farm) or labor income per ton of FCM (€ton-1 FCM). Compared with HG farms, NG farms had larger total milk production (370.7 vs 141.4ton FCM), higher production per ha (13.9 vs 8.4tonFCMha-1) and higher annual milk yield per cow (6.3 vs 4.4ton FCM). Because of the extensive manner of milk production in highland of HG farms, the NP surplus per ha of highland was negligible (6.4N and -0.2Pha-1year-1), and, therefore, not further considered. The N surplus averaged 186kgNha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 137kgNha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. The P surplus averaged 30kgPha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 24kgPha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. A high milk production per ha and a low % FSS (feed self-sufficiency) were associated with a high NP surplus, whereas the grazing system did not affect NP surplus per ha. Labor income per farm was lower for HG farms (30.3k€) than for NG farms (72.2k€), but expressed in euro per ton FCM, labor income was higher for HG (0.24€) than for NG farms (0.16€). A smaller farm size in the lowland and a lower milk production per ha lowland explained the lower labor income for HG farms compared with NG farms. Additional revenues from highland grazing, i.e. high-value cheese and grazing subsidies, caused higher labor income per ton FCM for HG than for NG farms. Hence, farmers tend to increase their net farm income by increasing their milk production per farm, via increasing their area of lowland and/or their milk production per ha lowland, while at the same time they abandon highland grazing. As enlargement of the lowland area is hampered by increasing urbanization of the valleys of the Italian Alps, farmers probably will increase their milk production per ha lowland. A higher milk production per ha lowland, however, will increase the environmental impact in the lowlands.

AB - In many European mountain areas, such as the Alps, highland grazing is declining. In addition to its effect on natural landscape and biodiversity, abandoning highland grazing may affect dairy-farm profitability and have environmental consequences in the lowland. The objective of this study was to assess economic and environmental effects of abandoning highland grazing of dairy herds in the central Italian Alps. We compared environmental and economic indicators of 12 farms that applied highland grazing (HG) of dairy cows with those of 16 farms that applied no grazing (NG), neither in highland nor in lowland. Environmental indicators used were nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) surplus per ha of land or per ton of FCM (fat-corrected milk). Economic indicators used were labor income of the farm family (k€ per farm) or labor income per ton of FCM (€ton-1 FCM). Compared with HG farms, NG farms had larger total milk production (370.7 vs 141.4ton FCM), higher production per ha (13.9 vs 8.4tonFCMha-1) and higher annual milk yield per cow (6.3 vs 4.4ton FCM). Because of the extensive manner of milk production in highland of HG farms, the NP surplus per ha of highland was negligible (6.4N and -0.2Pha-1year-1), and, therefore, not further considered. The N surplus averaged 186kgNha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 137kgNha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. The P surplus averaged 30kgPha-1year-1 for NG farms compared with 24kgPha-1year-1 for lowland of HG farms. A high milk production per ha and a low % FSS (feed self-sufficiency) were associated with a high NP surplus, whereas the grazing system did not affect NP surplus per ha. Labor income per farm was lower for HG farms (30.3k€) than for NG farms (72.2k€), but expressed in euro per ton FCM, labor income was higher for HG (0.24€) than for NG farms (0.16€). A smaller farm size in the lowland and a lower milk production per ha lowland explained the lower labor income for HG farms compared with NG farms. Additional revenues from highland grazing, i.e. high-value cheese and grazing subsidies, caused higher labor income per ton FCM for HG than for NG farms. Hence, farmers tend to increase their net farm income by increasing their milk production per farm, via increasing their area of lowland and/or their milk production per ha lowland, while at the same time they abandon highland grazing. As enlargement of the lowland area is hampered by increasing urbanization of the valleys of the Italian Alps, farmers probably will increase their milk production per ha lowland. A higher milk production per ha lowland, however, will increase the environmental impact in the lowlands.

KW - nitrogen use efficiency

KW - environmental-policies

KW - production systems

KW - management

KW - phosphorus

KW - indicators

KW - impact

KW - cows

KW - sustainability

KW - excretion

U2 - 10.1016/j.livsci.2011.03.008

DO - 10.1016/j.livsci.2011.03.008

M3 - Article

VL - 139

SP - 142

EP - 149

JO - Livestock Science

JF - Livestock Science

SN - 1871-1413

IS - 1-2

ER -