A German study of organic and conventional dairy farms found that improving feed efficiency under both production schemes not only reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but increases profits as well. The study was published in the December Journal of Dairy Science.
The study involved 81 organic and conventional herds in southern Germany, and was conducted by farm management specialists from Hohenheim University. The researchers found grass-based, organic herds produce on average 1.61 kilogram CO2 equivalents per kg of milk produced compared to 1.45 kg CO2 equivalents/kg for conventional farms. That represents about an 11% difference.
However, by improving grass and forage stands, improving feed efficiency and reducing the acreage needed to feed cattle, organic herds could reduce their GHG emissions and improve profitability by $1.20/cwt. Conventional herds, by improving their feed efficiency, could reduce their GHG emission even more and improve profitability by $1.75/cwt.
The authors’ conclusion: “Improved education and training of farmers and consultants regarding GHG mitigation and farm profitability appear to be the best method of improving efficiency under traditional and organic farming practices.”