Hochwald researches sustainability

German dairy group, Hochwald, has got involved in a research project, More Sustainable Milk, where methods are being developed to produce milk more productively and sustainably.

In the project group, practical farms the Hofgut Neumühle teaching and research institute, the Technical University (TU) Kaiserslautern, and Hochwald Foods, John Deere and BASF SE are investigating how technology and the consistent use of data can be used to reduce the CO₂ equivalents (CO₂e) in milk production.

The project is intended to make a significant contribution to data management on dairy farms. Across all interfaces, data, which is already available on the dairy farm, can be used without additional effort. For this purpose, all production steps of a dairy farm related to milk production are considered, from the forage harvest to feeding, application of organic fertiliser, to the next harvest. At each production step, data is collected, summarised and analysed to determine the CO₂e savings potential.

The practice farms Wahlerhof and Schmiedhof as well as Hofgut Neumühle supply Hochwald and check the effectiveness and implementation in practice. They are scientifically supported by TU Kaiserslautern.

For Hochwald dairy it is not only important how the measures affect milk quality and milk marketing, but also for the transfer of knowledge to other dairy farmers. The knowledge gained on CO₂e reduction and data management should be implemented as comprehensively as possible, where it brings ecological and economic benefits, the company says.

The harvest forms the interface between field work and feeding. It is the basis for all further measures in milk production.

The next step in milk production is needs-based feeding. The change in the ingredients after ensiling is precisely recorded by sensors. In this way, fermentation losses can be determined, and the feed ration can be precisely adapted to the needs of the animals.

The utilisation of organic fertilisers plays a central role in the nutrient cycle of dairy farming and for the CO₂e footprint. Emissions can be reduced through needs-based fertilisation.

The interaction of these measures is one of the challenges for data management and CO₂e footprint calculations.

Needs-based fertilisation can increase nitrogen use efficiency and avoid nutrient surpluses with their consequences, such as eutrophication and nitrous oxide emissions.

The end product of the cycle is the ‘more sustainable milk’. The data of all activities are collected, analyzed and summarized in the project by TU Kaiserslautern. This allows the effects on milk yield, animal performance, CO₂e footprint and other important influencing factors to be assessed centrally. In addition, adjustments can be planned and their potential for improvement calculated, which ultimately allows the ‘more sustainable’ to be quantified.

The project aims to make data management so efficient that it can be widely used in practice. This allows greater transparency throughout the value chain, which can be a necessary basis for new marketing, pricing and business models.

The project is financed by the European Union, by the EIP (European Innovation Partnership) via the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and by the partners themselves.

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