GB dairy farmers set to save tonnes of carbon with bio-tech

As part of its wider sustainability initiative, Leprino Foods, the world’s largest mozzarella cheese maker, is investing in biological technology that is on course to save a nearly 4,000t of CO2 annually on producers’ farms.

In the last two years, Leprino’s support has helped Welsh dairy farmers reduce their carbon footprints significantly. In total, they’re now saving nearly 20,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, with the average carbon footprint coming down from 1.21kg of CO2 / litre of FPCM in 2020 to 1.15kg of CO2 / litre of FPCM in 2023.

“Only a few years ago, it was only our most discerning customers that were asking about the measures we were taking to reduce our impact on the wider environment.  Today, all our customers are wanting to know how we can help them meet their scientific targets to reduce emissions and increase environmental sustainability,” says Leprino sustainability manager, Ben Williams.

Leprino has committed to supplying all its dairy farmers across England and Wales with the slurry inoculant, SlurryForSoil, for two years. Specifically designed for soil and plant health, it has proven in independent trials and on-farm to improve grass quality and yields while reducing the need for fertiliser.

“We’re delighted that Leprino realises the full value of SlurryForSoil,” says Geoff Hooper, director of Sylgen Animal Health, manufacturers of SlurryForSoil. “We’ve been on an incredible journey in developing the product and are extremely grateful for their support – from the pilot studies they ran with the first few suppliers 18 months ago to this wider investment and roll out.”

“We started looking at SlurryForSoil with the aims of a typical ‘slurry additive’,” explains Ben. “It was its capacity to retain nutrients within the slurry, use less bagged fertiliser and bust a few crusts.  But in the last 18 months that we’ve been working with the manufacturers of SlurryForSoil, Sylgen Animal Health, we’ve realised that the product has much more potential.”

Ben now describes SlurryForSoil as a ‘gateway innovation’ as it opens doors to other, emissions-reducing, technologies.  For him, it’s also key in demonstrating to government and other stakeholders that the industry is proactively taking steps to address the issues associated with the slurry management.

“Farmers are going to have change the way they handle slurry, and quickly. It’s partly driven by legislation which, can be a blunt axe of a tool and can have unintended consequences,” he says.

“To tackle the environmental impact of slurries and manures, we are going to have to add more value – well beyond their baseline nutrient value. And that’s one of the areas where SlurryForSoil comes in.”

SlurryForSoil contains 18 different plant growth promoting rhizobacteria and fungi, each is multi-functional but has valuable specialisms – from stimulating plant defence mechanisms (induced systemic resistance) to bioremediation.

“We know from farm carbon audits that increasing milk from forage is one of the best ways to reduce costs and lower carbon footprint. And that’s what SlurryForSoil does,” says Ben.

“Across the farms we work with SlurryForSoil typically delivers an 18% grass yield increase with 20% less fertiliser. The return on investments we’ve seen are huge – between 5:1 and in some cases 12:1 – it’s nearly unbelievable, especially when you consider how easy it is to use.”

Ben works extensively with farmers on Leprino’s sustainability initiative which also encourages farmers to, for example, adopt Lean management practices and remove soy from diets.

“Due to the nature of the job, farmers have to be risk and ambiguity adverse, but ultimately, we’ve only got five more years to make a significant impact of pre-farm gate emissions. Without support, the agricultural sector hasn’t the resilience to enable it to move fast enough.”

“As a business we want to demonstration that we are committed to change. We want to reassure farmers that despite the pace, this is not a short-term initiative. We’re reducing the risk by working with Sylgen Animal Health to demonstrate that SlurryForSoil offers a return on investment. Now, we’re trying to reduce the ambiguity by investing in supplies of the product for farmers across GB for at least two years.”

Related content

Leave a reply

Dairy Industries International