One-third more carbon stored in hay milk systems, says study
Left to right: Professor Werner Zollich, Christiane Mösl (managing director of Arge Heumilch), minister Elisabeth Köttinger and Karl Neuhofer (chairman of Arge Heumilch)
The Center for Global Change and Sustainability of the University of Bodenkultur (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria has published a study focusing on sustainability principles of Arge Heumilch, which promotes hay milk production. The results show that hay culture protects the climate, protects the soil and promotes biodiversity.
“Hay milk production is an Austrian success story. Our approximately 8,000 hay milk farmers pursue this very special traditional production method of quality and sustainability. In the new study, this success recipe is once again confirmed,” says Austria’s agricultural minister Elisabeth Köttinger.
“Hay milk production is the most original form of milk production and an environmentally friendly one. The combination of regional and sustainable production is fully in trend – what others are implementing only now, hay milk production has always done,” the minister says and sums up: “Hay milk products not only taste good, they are also part of our Austrian identity and also offer a contribution to UN sustainability goals.”
“The maintenance of the grassland surfaces by the hay milk farmers has a great climate policy significance, as these soils store tremendous amounts of carbon and represent valuable carbon sinks,” says university professor Werner Zollich, head of the BOKU.
About one-third more carbon is stored in the grazing meadows due to their high humus content and grazing, versus other arable areas, according to the study. In deeper soil layers, the grassland stores 196 tons of carbon per hectare, where the average forest floor stores 191 tons of carbon per hectare. Normal agricultural surfaces store 149 tons of carbon per hectare.
“In addition to carbon, you can store a lot of water and endure dry periods longer. The hay culture with its on grass and hay-based feeding receives these important functions and also protects against soil erosion,” explains Zollich.
“A site-tailored animal husbandry with a high grassland food content as the hay culture is a sustainable form of cattle farming,” states the professor. In terms of the farmed area, the hay industry has a total of 40% lower greenhouse emissions than the industrialised systems.