Hochwald aims for zero on German test farm

German dairy Hochwald together with Swiss company Nestlé, has started a climate milk farm in Germany. The aim of the pilot project is to reduce the footprint of an agricultural operation to zero emissions.

Over a period of three years, Nestlé Germany will work along with the Frese dairy farm in Northern Hesse, which has 135 cows, in order to make this Hochwald farm a model for other farmers.

The project is led by the Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Umwelt Nürtingen-Geislingen (HfWU), with scientific and technical advice from project partners Thünen Institut für Betriebswirtschaft and Bodensee Stiftung.

To start, experts from HfWU will calculate all emissions of the farm operations. This will use 30 defined measures to reduce greenhouse gases as much as possible. That is, for example: optimal feeding of the cows, gas-tight slurry storage, construction of a biogas plant, energy production by photovoltaic systems and optimised herd management to increase milk performance.

In parallel, more humus will be built up by regenerative management of the field and grassland surfaces, as well as lakes and trees, so that more greenhouse gases can be stored.

The climate milk farm also aims to reduce its use of pesticides and mineral fertilizers.

The aim of the pilot project is to get farm emissions to net zero after three to five years.

Markus Frank, professor of plant health management at the HfWU, sums up the project: “It takes decades until hedges and trees grow really big and the soil has built up enough humus. Therefore, in our joint project, we model how much carbon dioxide the plants and the ground can really store.”

“A kilogram of milk is currently causes about 1.1 kilogram of carbon dioxide. We want to reduce the carbon footprint of our dairy products in the coming years. For this we need to know exactly, what measures are ecologically and economically useful. Our joint pilot project with Frese helps us to gain valuable insights, as we can sustainably reduce greenhouse gases,” explains Noura Rhemouga, sustainability manager at Hochwald.

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