Climate Farmers Good farming practices for climate change mitigation by young European farmers
Introduction Climate Farmers is a project of and for young European farmers willing to take up their responsibility when it comes to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on their farms. This reduction lowers the impact of agriculture on climate change. In this project, we step away from theory and look at what is already done in the field. With the assistance of young farmer organisations across Europe, NAJK and CEJA have been able to gather bestpractices which are already implemented by young arable and dairy farmers.
Within this project, a measure is defined as a best-practice if: o it results in a reduction of GHG emissions o it can be easily implemented in farm management o it is cost-effective This booklet contains the results of this quest. A list of all the gathered bestpractices can be found on the website climatefarmers.eu. 24 young farmers from various European countries have taken a closer look at 12 of these practices and have rated the transferability of the measures to their own situation. These 12 case studies, located in four different countries, are described in more detail and are examples of innovative young European farmers who aim to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases of their farms.
Introduction2 Index3 Agriculture and climate change 5 Ireland and climate change 7 Dairy farm Daniels 8 Crop farm O Reilly 10 Dairy, beef and tillage farm Jagoe 12 Spain and climate change 15 Dairy sheep farm El Fornazo 16 Arable farm Revilla 18 Dairy farm Roncero 20 The Netherlands and climate change 23 Dairy farm De Marke 24 Arable farm Biotrio 26 Dairy farm Keuper 28 Sweden and climate change 31 Dairy and pea farm Almunge Prastgard 32 Crop and beef farm Bjorkeby Gard 34 Crop farm Wiggeby Gard 36 Summary 39
Climate change is a major concern for agriculture. According to the experts more draughts, storms, floods and heat waves can be expected. Not a very pleasant outlook for farmers who are so dependent on good climatic conditions for the production of food. But agriculture also adds to the problem by emitting greenhouse gases (GHG). The sector produces methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide or laughing gas (N₂O) and carbon dioxide (CO₂). Calculation of the exact emissions is complicated compared to other sectors as agricultural activities involve natural biological processes’ emissions but also carbon stocking.
Agriculture and climate change
Agricultural emissions are nevertheless estimated to account for more than 9% of the total EU-emissions in 2007. Agriculture is even the most important source of N₂O and CH₄ emissions in the EU. Animal manure and the application of fertilisers (both mineral and organic) are mainly responsible for the emission of N₂O which is 296 times more harmful than CO₂. CH₄ emissions are mainly caused by animal manure and livestock enteric fermentation. Methane is 24 times more harmful than CO₂. But agriculture can play a major role in the fight against climate change by reducing emissions and the sequestration of carbon in agricultural soils. This is a major challenge for the agricultural sector as farmers are also called upon to increase food production to feed an increasing world population.
Impact of climate change (including agriculture) Ireland will experience increased flooding, hotter and drier summers and increased sea levels. For agriculture in the short term mostly positive impacts are expected, such as increased crop yields and less requirements for winter fodder.
Ireland and climate change Agricultural share in greenhouse gas emissions 26%. The reason for such a high figure is that Ireland exports up to 80-90% of output in dairy and beef. The Irish population counts only 4 million people but enough food is produced to feed approximately 30 million people, so this is the reason for such a high figure.
Government policy The government takes no specific measures to reduce emissions from farms or to stimulate farmers to adopt climate smart measures. Trials are being carried out at research centres to determine if different breeds and diets for animals will help reduce emissions. Also, there is grant aid targeted at farmers to encourage them to grow forestry. The Rural Environment Protection Scheme (which is now closed) provided payments to farmers to farm in an environmentally fashion including specific measures to encourage hedgerow planting. Also there were stocking density limits for farmers who participated in the scheme. Approximately 50% of farmers participated in the scheme. From 2006 - 2008 there were Government investment grants for manure storage facilities as part of the nitrates directive. There is limited grant aid for solar panels; some dairy farms have introduced solar panels for heating water for dairy washing.
Location: County Kilkenny, Ireland
Dairy farm Daniels
This dairy farm is located in the Irish county of Kilkenny is owned by John, Bryan and Philip Daniels. They manage a total of 132 hectares of which 123 is owned. The farm is located on an altitude of 250 – 307 metres and experiences an average rainfall of 1050 – 1150 mm. Their herd is a Friesian bred one. The average stock is composed of 146 milking cows, 155 heifers, 6 breeding bulls and 65 dry stock. The short term goals of the farm are to increase the milk sub index of the herd, to reseed the existing dry stock ground and to improve the farm layout for a better efficiency. In the long term, the farmers would like to develop the farm into a large dairy unit which is easy to manage with good financial and labour efficiency but which is also enjoyable. Bryan is involved in the ‘Dairyman’ project (www.interregdairyman. eu) with Teagasc (semi-state training, advisory and research body) which is an EU led pilot scheme to measure inputs from all carbon based products on the farm like diesel, fertilizer, tractor usage, electric motors etc. It is only the first year of the project so no results are available yet.
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“ For our farm to survive in the future it must be of three things; it must be Profitable, Sustainable and Enjoyable.” Climate friendly measures: grassland management and efficient energy use The farming system is based on compact spring calving which aims to convert as much grazed grass into milk solids as possible. The growth of the grass is measured as to optimize this to the demand. This way, the use of artificial nitrogen is reduced. Bryan has also started stitching red and white clover into grassland silage swards. This increases the protein content in the grass silage crop thus reducing the need to either grow arable protein crops or buy in protein for winter feeding. It also reduces the fertilizer requirements to grow the silage. GHG reduction is achieved by a reduction in the need for fossil fuel to produce fertilizer but also because of lower nitrous oxide emissions when fertilizer is replaced by a nitrogen fixating crop like clover. By having a spring calving herd Bryan is able to reduce his diesel use for harvesting grass.
Optimizing energy inputs/ product output: Bryan aims to have all morning milking, washing and automatic scraping completed at the off peak electricity supply rate. This is cheaper for him, but it also takes the pressure off the electricity suppliers at peak rates which rely more on fuel sources that have high carbon emissions instead of more renewable sources. The water heating is done on kerosene (84% efficiency) instead of electricity (79% efficiency). He will convert to woodchips. This is climate friendly when the chips come from the surroundings of the farm instead of for example Russia. Naturally they have to be burnt in an efficient way. Light sensors are used to reduce electricity use. His target is a 60% energy reduction.
Motivation of the farmer The main motivation for Bryan was to optimize the cost-benefit relation and to be independent of the world market. His objectives were both financial and climate related in the sense that he wanted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. His choice was not influenced by any environmental regulations imposed by governmental policies. However he says it is better to be prepared for rules that might come. According to the farmer, implementing new measures is an on-going process. The best way to stimulate farmers is by learning from other farmers and to motivate farmers by showing a carrot instead of a stick. Showing the financial benefits of the measures is important.
----------------------------------------------Tips & tricks Bryan got help from the Dairymen project, Macra na Feirme and Teagasc to implement the different measures. Thereâ€™s some uncertainty about some details of the implemented measures as research is still going on. The organisations supported him with respect to different aspects of the measures, for example all farm management issues and technical problems. A 27% reduction on the energy use has already taken place thanks to the more efficient way of water heating. Besides the effect on GHGâ€™s, using more grass clover also results in less nitrate leaching. The use of grass clover has a positive cost benefit effect because less fertilizer and concentrates have to be bought while production remains the same or improves. Within two months of implementing energy-saving measures money was saved on the energy bill. Managing a grass-clover field requires other skill than a field with only grass. The future The farmer wants to implement and develop the measures further. Implementing climate friendly measures is an on going process according to the farmer. His target is a 60% energy reduction compared to the situation prior to the implementation of the measures.
Crop farm O Reilly
This crop farm is located in the Irish county of Kilkenny and is owned by Larry O Reilly. He manages a total of 466 hectares of which 223 ha is rented and 243 ha is owned. He cultivates cereals and sugar beets. The predominant soil type is clay. The terrain is flat.
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Location: County Kilkenny, Ireland
Climate friendly measures: minimum tillage and precision farming In the mid 1980’s this farmer started to shift from traditional ploughing and tilling methods to minimum tillage and precision farming. Larry’s objective is to increase the organic matter in the soil. The organic matter can be kept at a higher level when the soil is worked less intense because there’s less mineralization of the organic matter. A higher organic matter content has a positive effect on GHG’s. Firstly because the same yield can be reached with less fertilizer and thus less fossil fuel. Secondly, there is a positive effect on GHG’s results from less volatilization of nitrous oxide. Last but not least is the storage of carbon in the soil. CO₂ from the air is used by plants and stored in organic matter. According to the farmer the higher organic matter is especially beneficial for the production of sugar beets as this crop takes away more organic matter from the soil than it gives back (for cereals it is the other way around). In the years that followed he relied more and more on this method. On some plots he is not even tilling at all anymore. Larry uses a GPS system to apply the exact amount of fertilizer and pesticides on the exact location. By this measure he needs less fertilizer. A lower use of fertilizer leads to lower carbon dioxide emissions for the production of fertilizer.
Motivation of the farmer “My main motivation was to reduce costs and to increase sustainability with the same or even better productivity. I wanted to increase the soil fertility and lower my machine costs”. His personal motivation was not influenced by any government policy nor driven by any subsidies. He was not inspired by other farmers as he was one of the first farmers to implement this system in this area. Other farmers tried to follow his example but stopped as soon as any problems arose. Still Larry thinks that learning from other farmers is a good way to stimulate colleagues to implement climate friendly measures.
-------------------------------------------Tips & tricks In the beginning the farmer had to use more Roundup because of increasing weed problems. This was the main problem. Furthermore, the first three years were very rainy, the soil got stiffer and colder. The yields were very bad. Because there was no research available at the time the farmer had to find out by himself the ideal cultivation depth How to use the GPS system was a difficulty in the beginning. The measure resulted in a better soil texture (number of soil worms increased) and less leaching of nutrients and better water storing of the soil. With respect to the management Larry now has less working hours in the field and the growing time of the crops has been reduced by ten days. Yields have gone up with 10%. Larry also noted an immediate cost reduction of 20%. Saving diesel by not working the land so many times and by using the GPS: 4000 tractor hours/year has with this system decreased to 600 – 700 hours per year. Also fewer machines are needed. The farmer now possesses only two tractors. According to Larry it’s a disadvantage that the ‘window’ for sowing is very small with this system The future No special plans for the future.
Location: County Cork, Ireland
Dairy, beef and tillage farm Jagoe
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This farm is located in the hilly Irish county of Cork and is owned by young farmer Alan Jagoe. He works in a partnership with his father, Edward Jagoe. They manage a total of 162 hectares of which 73 is owned. They grow 23 ha of maize; 5 ha of beets; 18 ha of barley and 20 ha of wheat. Most of the crops are grown for home use. The rest of the 162 ha is grassland (brown podzolic soil). The average milking herd is composed of 120 milking cows who supplied an average of 7000 litres per cow in 2010. All of the bull calves are reared as bull beef and finished at 18 to 24 months. Climate friendly measure: pure grazing system Since 2002 Alan is grazing his cows approximately 300 days per year. He is monitoring the grazing conditions on the different plots by monitoring his fields and keeping data in his iPad. The cows change fields after every milking. He spreads the slurry in the growing season (instead of all year round) for better absorption. GHG emissions are reduced by this measure because nutrients are used more efficient when manure is applied in the growing season. This results in less nitrous oxide volatilization and less fertilizer is needed to get the same yield. Besides he is saving energy by recovering heat out of cooling milk.
Motivation of the farmer The main motivation for the farmer was to reduce costs and to benefit as much as possible from the resource available: grass. His choice for this system was also influenced by the availability of national subsidies for the installation of slurry storing lagoons. Alan says to have learned a lot from other farmers by exchanging experiences about the pure grazing system in the Macra study group. Alan thinks it’s important to encourage and support farmers in a positive way to reduce GHG emissions.
-------------------------------------------Tips & tricks When the cows have to produce milk from the available fresh grass, optimal weather conditions become much more important. To work with the chosen measures Alan got support from the Macra Na Feirme study group and from an independent advisory service. 55% of the slurry installation was paid by the government. Because the need for silage is lower and less machine work is needed for making and feeding silage. This results in lower machine costs and lower emissions of polluting exhaust fumes. Because there’s less time needed on the tractor there’s more time for other work. Alan didn’t invest in anything special when he started the grazing system. A small disappointment for Alan is that he had to renew some plots already within 6-8 years. Overall, Alan says he got better profits.
The future The farmer wants to expand the farm in general by increasing the number of milking cows and by expanding his land. Also he has planning to install a wind turbine to power the milking parlour.
Impact of climate change (including agriculture) The projected effects of climate change are quite severe for Spain. The country will experience the combined effect of large temperature increases and reduced precipitation. By the end of the century, annual rainfall may drop by 40 % compared to current levels. As a result yields are expected to drop by 10% to 30%.
Spain and climate change
Agricultural share in greenhouse gas emissions At 10% in 2005,the agricultural share of GHGâ€™s is higher than the EU-average of 9%. The higher percentage can be explained by the relatively high amount of arable land. The Spanish GHG emissions from animals are mainly from sheep and pigs. Dairy cows are also important but cow numbers have decreased since 1990. Government policy The Spanish government set up a plan to reduce GHG emissions, but agriculture isnâ€™t part of the plan. The goal of this plan is to achieve the Spanish goals that are part of the Kyoto agreement. The government does not take specific measures to reduce emissions from farms nor to stimulate farmers to adopt climate smart measures. There are two ways by which the agricultural sector is involved in the Spanish climate policy. First, because the government is focusing more and more on replacing fossil fuel by so called green energy sources and second because it is focusing on storing more carbon, for example by increasing the organic matter content of arable soils.
Location: Fariza de Sayago, Spain
Dairy sheep farm El Fornazo
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El Fornazo is located near the village of Fariza de Sayago in the Spanish province of Zamora in the Castile and Leon region. The Santos family runs the organic sheep farm with 850 milking sheep. The milk of the sheep is used to make cheese. The local breed that is used is known for its dual purpose of producing meat and milk. The farm El Fornazo lies in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park. The family grows cereals on 5 hectare of land and 30 hectare is used for other fodder crops. 120 hectare is pasture and 25 hectare is wasteland that consists of trees and woodland. The average rainfall is 611 mm per year. Climate friendly measure: Organic farming In 2003 the Santos family started to run their farm in an organic way meaning they use as little as possible (fossil) energy, grow all the feed for the sheep themselves, don’t plough the land and don’t use any fertilizer or pesticides. Furthermore, they try to sell their products on the local market. The Santos’s focus on reducing GHG emission is to use as little as possible fossil fuel to produce high quality food. Fariza de Sayago lies in a remote area. By not using concentrates and fertilizers a lot of energy spent on the production and transport of these products is being saved. The wasteland consists of trees and bushes. A lot of organic matter is stored in these parts. The way the Santos’s are running their farm means they increase the organic matter content of the soil. They also apply direct seeding for their arable crops. The higher organic matter content is very positive with respect to GHG emissions.
Motivation of the farmer “We were already using very small amounts of fertilizer and concentrates before we went organic. We live in a beautiful area but the circumstances to grow crops can be quite difficult. With the way we farm now, we can protect the environment and have a good production level at the same time.” The Santos family is aware the climate is changing. They want to contribute to solving the problem. They think there are different ways the government can stimulate more climate friendly agricultural practices. This includes, for example, giving more information to the farmers of other farming methods.
----------------------------------------------Tips & tricks To raise the value of their product, Santos started to make cheese. The organic way of farming together with the cheese making gives them more satisfaction than before. The marketing of the cheese takes more time than just selling the milk to a cooperative. Because they don’t use pesticides anymore there’s no run off of these chemicals to the environment. This also improves the biodiversity of their farm. A higher biodiversity is important to better cope with the changing climate. An important issue for a growing number of consumers is animal welfare. The welfare of Santos’s sheep improved when the farm went organic. The future Santos want’s to make use of solar power for energy production in the future.
Arable farm Revilla Jesus Revilla has an arable farm in Autilla del Pino in the Spanish province of Palencia in the Castile and Leon region. Together with his father he works 300 hectare of clay soil. He grows cereals and vegetables. The average precipitation in the area is 400 mm.
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Location: Autilla del Pino, Spain
Climate friendly measure: Direct seeding Some years ago Jesus invested in a direct seeding machine with GPS positioning. Fellow farmers still plough the land, but by making use of the direct seeding machine, Jesus works the land only once per season and the soil has a higher organic matter content. These measures result in lower GHG emissions in different ways. Because of the lower diesel need, less COâ‚‚ is emitted. As a result of the minimal tillage thereâ€™s less mineralization of organic matter, so more carbon is stored in the soil. The higher organic matter content leads to less loss of nitrous oxide, but itâ€™s also possible to apply less fertilizer for the same yield.
----------------------------------------------Motivation of the farmer Jesus invested in the direct seeding machine because of the cost benefit he expected from the investment.
Tips & tricks The climate friendly measure Jesus took needed the investment in a new machine. The direct seeding machine he bought was also a machine he had to get used to. It’s a new way of tilling the soil. The first two years after the investment Jesus had slightly smaller yields than before. But now when the soil has adapted to the system yields are slightly higher than his colleagues’ yields. His costs for machinery and diesel are lower. The higher organic matter improves the water storage capacity of the soil. Jesus is aware that it can be difficult to take this measure when you just bought a new plough, but he truly believes the direct seeding machine pays for itself in a few years.
“ More organic matter in the soil leads to higher yields” The future No special plans for the future.
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Location: Peleas de Abajo, Spain
Dairy farm Roncero
Together with two brothers and his father Salvador Roncero has a dairy farm in Peleas de Abajo in the Spanish province of Zamora in the Castile and Leon region. The family has 150 holstein dairy cows which produce 1.500.000 litres milk per year. The farmers grow 7 hectare of maize, 6 hectare oats and 3 hectare of barley. They have to buy the rest of the feed.
Climate friendly measure: Intensive, energy efficient farming Salvador invested in different measures to save energy. The milking machine has a frequency controlled pump that is also used to pump up the ground water. A heat recovery system reduces the energy used to cool down the milk and warms up the water that is used for cleaning. A solar panel on the roof provides for the warm water. The lighting in the stable is switched on automatically when it’s too dark. These measures lead to a reduced energy use which leads to lower CO₂emissions. Salvador wants the cows to produce as much milk as possible in an efficient way. When he needs fewer cows for the same amount of milk, he needs less feed. He tries to reach this by using the best genetics there are and by applying a strict breeding programme. Because Salvador needs fewer cows (young stock as well as milking cows) to produce the same amount of milk, there’s a lower methane production from the cows’ rumens. But because his stock is smaller there’s also less manure produced than on an average farm. Therefore there’s also less emission of methane from the manure. The feed that the farmers grow themselves is sown by direct seeding. This leads to a lower GHG emission because of the lower diesel need and the carbon storage in the higher organic matter (o.m.) content of the soil. The higher o.m. content also leads to a lower emission of N₂O.
Motivation of the farmer “We try to run our farm in a cost efficient way. Using as little energy as possible fits perfectly to this way of farming. To be more energy efficient we want to sell our milk products in our region. That’s why we’re member of the GAZA milk processors.”
Tips & tricks The investments for the energy efficient equipment are a little higher than for regular equipment, but the savings on the energy bill make the investments already profitable within a few years. To invest in the measures, Salvador got financial support out of the Second Pillar from the EU. The dairy cooperative helped him by providing a loan. To make sure the cows produce much milk it’s important to give a lot of attention to the feed ratio. The feed has to have a high nutritive value, otherwise it’s impossible to get a high milk production. Salvador and his brothers and father travelled a lot to see different machines, but also to see and buy genetically good cows. By selling his milk locally a lot of transport costs can be saved. Of course this also results in less air pollution. The future Salvador would like to invest in solar panels in the coming future. At this time it’s unfortunately impossible to sell the surplus electricity because the electricity grid isn’t suitable to handle this amount of electricity.
Impact of climate change (including agriculture) The Netherlands will experience more extreme weather conditions. Dry and warm periods as well as wet periods are expected to occur more often and the average temperature is expected to rise. Because a big part of the country is a delta, problems can take place in case of heavy rain when the rivers cannot cope with the large amount of water. Because of the rising sea level salinization of arable areas alongside the coast can become a problem as well. These changes will increase the possibilities of yield losses, but yields may also rise for some crops.
The Netherlands and climate change
Agricultural share in greenhouse gas emissions 8%. The agricultural sector of the Netherlands is quite intensive. Almost all the land is used and there are a lot of cows, pigs and chickens. Because other economic sectors are also large, the percentage is around the EU average. Government policy The Dutch government is implementing a policy program called Clean and Efficient. Part of this program is the goal to reduce the emission of GHGâ€™s with 30% by 2020 compared to 1990. Since the agricultural sector already reached a reduction of 15% in 2007, the governmentâ€™s focus is more on other sectors. The government supports investigation, information and innovation projects about GHGâ€™s and agriculture. Farmers investing in energy efficient measures can get support and they can apply for a tax reduction.
Location: Hengelo, Netherlands
Dairy farm De Marke
Zwier van der Vegte is farm manager at De Marke. De Marke is a research and information centre in the Eastern Part of the Netherlands. It investigates measures with respect to the environment that are useful for dairy farms. This means that the measures should also be economically justifiable. The farm has 75 milking cows and 45 young stock. The production is 8.500 kg/cow/year. The soil from De Marke is a light sandy soil. The yearly rainfall is 825mm.
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“ Running on biogas increased our tractor’s power” Climate friendly measure: focus on efficient nutrient use De Marke’s core themes are efficient mineral utilization and the mitigation of GHG and NH3-emissions. Over the years De Marke has implemented a lot of different measures with respect to a more efficient use of nutrients. Maize is grown in a crop rotation with grass and barley to prevent a loss of organic matter and to prevent too much loss of nitrogen through nitrate leaching. A higher organic matter content makes sure more carbon is stored in the soil but it also reduces the emission of laughing gas. De Marke doesn’t buy any N and P fertilizer. Off course this leads to lower carbon dioxide emissions because this fertilizer doesn’t have to be produced, nor transported. Other measures are a lower stocking rate, more maize in the feed ratio, less grazing, and optimal time (in the row) slurry application. The first two measures result in less methane production from the farm. The first because when you have fewer young stock, also less methane is produced. The second measure results in a lower methane production because the cows’ rumens produces less methane when is has to digest more maize. Less grazing means that more slurry is caught in the slurry pit and this slurry can be applied more efficiently than when the cow just leaves it somewhere in the field. The same reasoning counts for the in row application of slurry with respect to maize. De Marke built a biogas installation to ferment the manure. The gas is used to generate electric energy, but also to use as fuel for the tractor. In this way no methane form the slurry comes in the air. By burning methane, only carbon dioxide arises. Carbon dioxide is almost 25 times less harmful than methane.
------------------------------------------Motivation of the farmer The focus of De Marke is to run the farm with low nutrient losses, low costs and good quality yields. The best way to stimulate farmers to adopt climatefriendly measures according to the farm manager is by showing that it is possible what De Marke does.
-------------------------------------------Tips & tricks The investment in the biogas installation, gas cleaning unit, electricity generator, adaptation of the tractor, and the tractor gas tank filling unit all cost a lot of money. For example, to adapt the tractor to run on bio gas an investment of approximately € 15.000 is needed. It depends on the fuel or electricity price if these measures are profitable. The cost price of 1 m3 of bio gas is € 0,40. In the Netherlands a legal permit is needed to build a bio gas installation. It can be difficult to get this permit from the local authorities. To invest in the different measures the farm got innovation support from the government. Also to work with the installation the farm-workers got support and advice to work with the system. After the methane is taken out of the manure, the solid and liquid parts of the manure are separated. The liquid part has a high level of nitrogen; the solid part has a high share of phosphorus. Because these two nutrients are split, it’s easier to apply them in an efficient way. A side effect is that the farm doesn’t lose any phosphorus. The fact that De Marke doesn’t apply any fertilizer anymore without having a production loss shows the profitability of their measures. With respect to the profitability of the bio gas installation the profitability depends more on different aspects like gas and diesel prices or investment subsidies. The future The methane problem on dairy farms is still difficult to tackle. De Marke is thinking about the possibilities of a methane catching unit in the top of the stable.
Location: Langeweg, Netherlands
Arable farm Biotrio
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Kees van Beek is one of the owners of the organic farm Biotrio. This is an arable farm in Langeweg in the South of the Netherlands. The farm, with 220 hectares of arable land, is owned by three farmers who combined their farms in 1999. Biotrio grows herbs, carrots, spinach, potatoes, cabbages, onions, cereals and alfalfa. The soil is a clay soil. The yearly rainfall is 850mm and the average temperature is 10,3° Celcius. Climate friendly measure: seasonal controlled traffic farming Since 1999 biotrio has started experimenting with a system of so called seasonal controlled traffic farming. This system uses permanent traffic lanes for all operations other than harvesting and primary tillage. Nowadays Biotrio uses tractors with a 3.15 m track width and equipment with a 6.3 m width. These machines are all equipped with a RTK satellite system which makes it possible to follow the tracks very accurately. The main benefits with respect to the GHG emissions have effect on the laughing gas volatilization. With the applied measure there is less soil compaction. As a result of this there’s more air in the soil which decreases the volatilization of laughing gas. Because Biotrio ploughs the land less often than before also the diesel use went down.
----------------------------------------------Motivation of the farmer For organic farming it’s very important to have good soil preparation. The main motivation for the farmer was to improve the soil quality and to ease the weed management. “By using a controlled traffic farming it is possible to get into the field much sooner than with a conventional system. “ Mr Van Beek thinks that by showing that the controlled traffic farming system has a lot of advantages works the best to convince colleagues about the system.
Tips & tricks The investment to adapt almost all machines to the wider track is quite costly. Besides the wider tracks you need to buy the satellite system. For some of the machines it’s difficult to adapt them to the wider tracks. You have to like mechanics. Obviously it’s sometimes difficult to reach the plot when the road isn’t that wide. Biotrio got financial innovation support from the government to adapt the measure. The tractor and machine building companies helped Biotrio with technical support and advice. Of course it takes some effort to learn to work with the system, but when you’re in the field you can focus much more on what happens ‘behind’ you instead of trying to steer in a straight line. The soil structure improved a lot. The soil is much looser than before and the weed pressure is still going down. The higher number of workable days is an advantage with the seeding and manure application. The higher number of workable days in the field is part of the reason why the weed control improved. But the weeds can be better attacked because the accuracy of the machine is very high. And as a result of that the working capacity in the field is higher than with a regular system. For most of the crops the yields went up. The future In the future Biotrio is thinking of building a biogas installation. They’re also thinking of stopping to use animal manure, and use chopped alfalfa as fertilizer instead.
Location: Megchelen, Netherlands
Dairy farm Keuper
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The farm of Tom Keuper is located in the East of the Netherlands, close to the German border. Together with his parents he has 125 dairy cows to produce a total amount of 850.000 kg milk. The young stock from 1 year old is reared at a colleague’s farm. Tom uses 53 hectare of land to feed the cows. The soil is a heavy clay soil. In an average year the rainfall in Megchelen adds to a total of 775 mm. The average yearly temperature is 9,7° Celcius. Climate friendly measure: pure grazing system Since 2008 Tom is applying a pure grazing system. The goal is to produce as much milk as possible by letting the cows get the grass themselves. The cows have their calves from March until the beginning of May. In this period the cows need the best quality of feed. This fits perfect to the grass quality which is then at best. In winter when the grass growth is almost zero, the cows don’t need that much feed because they’re dry. To optimize the grass growth, Tom’s cows start grazing in a plot when the grass is long (3.000 kg d.m./ha). The benefits of the system with respect to the methane production are unclear so far. There is a big reduction in carbon dioxide emissions with this system because less energy is used to harvest and fertilize the grass with a tractor. Another big advantage with respect to the climate is the much lower laughing gas emission because of the permanent pasture. When no pasture is ploughed there’s less mineralization of carbon and less volatilization of laughing gas. When the need of the stock runs parallel to the grass quality there are also less concentrates needed.
-------------------------------------------Motivation of the farmer The main motivation for the farmer was to reduce costs and to improve the animals’ health. Tom has always been grazing his cows. But he was still using a lot of concentrates and he had to make much roughage.
-------------------------------------------Tips & tricks Tom had to make some small investments. He bought a movable electric fence and a small milk tank for when only a few cows have calved and the milk production is too low for the big cooling tank. The cash flow of the farm changed. Nowadays Tom has a lower cash flow in winter because all cows are dry then. The higher organic matter content has a positive effect on the nutrient utilization of the grass. The nitrate and phosphate leaching is reduced. The soil biodiversity improved with the system. Management wise Tom had to learn to graze in another way. The cows come in a plot when there’s 3000 kg of dry matter per hectare. This is very uncommon (in the Netherlands). As a part of the system Tom had to make movable drinking troughs. When it’s very wet, it’s difficult to graze the cows. Because of the dependency of fresh grass, you have to learn to cope with a more fluctuating production. Tom’s view on farming differs from his colleagues’ view. He is not focusing on production per cow, but per hectare. Tom got help from a consultant who specialised in a pure grazing system with respect to some technical aspects and the management. The cows get the feed themselves and they spread the manure themselves as well. Tom changes the grazing plot every three hours. As a result there’s less machine work and Tom has time for other things. During the year there’s less work in winter but peak employment in April when all cows are calving. According to Tom the health of the stock improved. He shows his veterinary costs went down. Because of the fresh grass the milk is healthier than other cow milk. This benefit can be used to better market the milk. Because the cows are out in the field most of the time cheaper housing is possible. Some consumers like the landscape more when there’s no maize but cows in the field. The future In the coming years Tom wants to improve his grazing skills and optimize the system.
Impact of climate change (including agriculture) The growing season will be longer, which can create positive effects like higher yields from e.g. sugar beets and other crops. There are also studies showing that the potato yield will be doubled. The winter will be warmer, so new winter crops like winter oats can be grown, and winter crops that today are grown and gains a high yield in the south of Sweden will be able to be grown and gain a high yield in the north as well. New crops like sunflower and grapes that is not produced in Sweden today can be grown.
Sweden and climate change
Negative effects include a risk of early summer drought (May/June), which can make it more difficult to produce cereals with good quality (e.g. high protein). There will be more rain during July/August, which can create problems with for example fungi, but also lead to difficulties with harvesting. New species of pathogens and weed will come to Sweden as the climate change, and as the number of pesticides allowed to be used in Sweden is getting fewer and fewer this can create problems.
Agricultural share in greenhouse gas emissions 13% Government policy “Focus on Nutrients” is a joint venture between The Swedish Board of Agriculture, The County Administration Boards, The Federation of Swedish Farmers and a number of companies in the farming business. With individual (and for the farmer free) on- farm advisory visits, “Focus on nutrients” tries to reduce the losses and emissions of different nutrients, and from this year on there is also a focus on climate change (www.greppa.nu). There are high taxes on diesel in order to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide in agriculture, and there are also discussions on a carbon dioxide tax. Some budget is allocated to Research and Development.
Location: Almunge Prastgard, Sweden
Dairy and pea farm Almunge Prastgard
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Almunge Prastgard is owned by Jenny and Magnus Alm. They manage a total of 170 hectares. They have a yearly average of 110 milking cows and cultivate 110 ha of silage and peas. The predominant soil type is clay and mull. Jenny and Magnus Alm are one of the first farmers in Sweden with a climate certification www. klimatmarkningen.se. This Swedish initiative was started in 2007 by the labelling companies KRAV and Swedish Seal (Svenskt Sigill) in order to develop a climate certification for the food chain. Climate friendly measure: Organic production of cows feeding and crops In 1994 Jenny’s mother was one of the first farmers in the area who decided to switch to organic farming. The main benefit with respect to GHG emission results from stopping to use fertilizer. When less fertilizer has to be made, less fossil fuel has to be used for the production and transport of the fertilizer. So less CO₂ is emitted. The organic matter content of the soil is higher than of comparable farms. A higher content means that there’s more carbon stored in the soil and that there’s less laughing gas volatilization. Both effects are positive with respect to the climate. For the last few years, 75 % of the cows’ feed has been produced on the farm. This means less feed has to be transported and so less fuel is used to get the feed on the farm. With respect to the protein need of the cows’ ration, Jenny and Magnus are growing peas themselves. Regular farms feed a lot of soybeans which are transported from abroad. The certification helps to market their product in a reliable way.
Motivation of the farmer Jenny’s mother was motivated by environmental idealism. Back in 1994 there were no governmental incentives to start organic farming. Jenny and Magnus’s progressive way of running the farm triggered them to also look at the effects of farming on climate change. They believe in the system of labelling climate friendly products so consumers will buy the product and stimulate farmers to adopt more climate friendly measures.
Tips & tricks Every investment needs to be accurate and well considered in order to fulfil the standards of climate certification. When Jenny’s mother started to farm organic there was hardly anybody producing organically so little technical knowledge was available. The local administration assisted in obtaining the organic certification. But nowadays this has changed. It required more working hours to obtain the certification. Because Jenny and Magnus are organic farmers they don’t use any pesticides. This has a positive effect on the environment and biodiversity. The Swedish consumer is very environmentally aware. Jenny and Magnus get a better price for their organically produced milk than other farmers get for their regular milk. The future Jenny and Magnus would like to invest in biomass production and a wind mill turbine
Location: Bjorkeby Gard, Sweden
Crop and beef farm Bjorkeby Gard
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Bjorkeby Gard is owned by the two brothers Johan and Gustav Kjellin. They manage a total of 900 hectares of which 500 is rented, 100 is owned and 300 is under contract. They have a yearly average of 50 â€“ 70 beef cattle. They cultivate 200 ha of winter wheat; 70 ha of spring wheat; 70 ha of barley; 40 ha of oat; 25 ha of peas; 25 ha of flakes and 100 ha of a grass mix. The predominant soil type is clay and sandy fields. Climate friendly measure: solar panels In 1984 their father was a pioneer in the area when he installed solar panels both for economical and environmental reasons. The panels installed in 1984 are still used today. The gain in GHG reduction is because electricity that is produced by burning fossil fuels is replaced by solar panels from which GHG emission is almost zero. Besides the replacement of the regular electricity from the farm the surplus energy replaces regular energy of other economic sectors (besides agriculture) as well.
Motivation of the farmer Johan and Gustavâ€™s father was motivated by government encouragement. Also, he wanted to be more economically efficient. His view was that environment and financial profits can and should go together. The farmer was a real pioneer because no other farmers have installed solar panels in the area yet. Johan and Gustav would like to improve and modernise their practices to better adapt to climate change. But unfortunately those investments are too costly at the moment. Obviously Johan and Gustav Kjellin think that the best way to stimulate farmers to adopt climate-friendly measures is by rewarding them financially.
Tips & tricks When Johan and Gustav’s father invested in the solar panel he got technical and financial support from a friend who’s very innovative in this field. They placed the panels on the roof of a building. The government encouraged him to install the panels as well. With respect to the management it’s very easy to have and maintain solar panels. The Kjellin family still has the same panels as they bought 27 years ago. The energy bill is off course much lower, but the panels are only cost-effective after 10 years. In some countries it’s possible to sell the surplus energy, but this depends on the local grid. Solar panels that are produced nowadays are more efficient than the older panels.
The future In the future Johan and Gustav would like to invest in a GPS system on their tractor to better optimize the use of fertilizer and pesticides.
Location: Wiggeby Gard, Sweden
Crop farm Wiggeby Gard
Wiggeby Gard is owned by Hakan and Teri Lee Eriksson. They manage a total of 600 hectares of which 500 are rented and 100 are owned. They cultivate 420 hectares of grass and 180 hectares of horsehay which is sold both locally and abroad. The predominant soil type is clay (about 40 – 50%). The farm is located in the proximity of a village and natural areas which makes it necessary to put great emphasis on planning and implementing various management measures, the application of manure and use of chemicals like pesticides. Wiggeby Farm won the prize “WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award 2010” www.wwf.se.
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“Farmers win, nature wins” Climate friendly measure: minimize the loss of Nitrogen Wiggeby Gard is part of a project called ‘Cultivation in Balance’, aiming to show that economy and ecology can be combined on a farm with modern production www.odlingibalans.com/pilotgardar. A nitrogen sensor for good plant nutrient use is placed in different parts of the field. The Eriksson’s objectives are a nitrogen (N) utilization of more than 75% and minimal variation in harvest between years through efforts to maintain a good soil structure. They try to calculate exactly the input and the output of N in the agricultural process and to re-adjust the second fertilizer spreading of the year (end of May) according to the leaching out that is registered. The goal is to minimise the nitrate leaching, and to ensure a better yield. So far Hakan and Teri registered 3-5% saved N and 3-5% of more yields, by cutting down from 60 to 30 Kg of input. They managed to be accurate in calculating input and output thanks to a special sensor based on an infrared system that has been created by the Swedish-German company YARA. By using the nitrogen more efficient less fertilizer is needed, but also less nitrous oxide is produced in the soil. Both these aspects decrease the GHG emission from the farm. By applying comprehensive straw burning Teri and Hakan are using renewable energy for heating instead of fossil fuel. By this measure they reduce emission of CO₂ as well.
Motivation of the farmer “To be at the same time more efficient, to save money and develop a more climate friendly technique. Economic and environmental motivations go hand in hand”. Their personal will was not influenced by any government policies. They were not inspired by other farmers as they were one of the first farmers to implement this system in this area. But Hakan and Teri Lee Eriksson think that the best way to stimulate farmers to adopt climatefriendly measures is by rewarding them financially and by supporting farmers through better education and training programmes.
-------------------------------------------Tips & tricks The farmers took different measures to use nutrients more efficiently. Measures that are interesting but don’t have a large influence on the GHG emission are for example a sediment pond to reduce phosphorus transport to the aquatic environment and buffer zones along streams. It was financially challenging for Teri and Hakan to invest in the equipment. Hakan: “At the beginning it was difficult for me and my staff to learn how to use the new machines. To manage the tractors with infrared sensors and transmit the information to special software required a specific training, provided by the company YARA”. The lower amount of nitrate and phosphorus leaching has positive effects on the surrounding environment and groundwater quality. The measures are interesting because you have to buy fewer inputs (like fertilizer and pesticides) while having more outputs. Hakan recovered the costs of investment after three years. According to Hakan it’s difficult to learn how to use the new machine without previous knowledge on the subject. The future “I would like to increase the balance in the spraying phase but for that I need to invest in new equipment”.
Summary The case studies in this booklet show that young farmers all across Europe are developing a wide range of methods in order to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their farms. These farmers are successfully looking for innovative ways to make food production more sustainable. Sustainable in the sense that the food is produced with fewer emissions of greenhouse gases, like CO₂, N₂O and CH₄, responsible for climate change. As farmers of the future, young farmers are part of the solution in providing the next generations with “climate friendly” food. The case studies show that the development and implementation of a climate friendly measure is sometimes a matter of trial and error, as not much research has been conducted in this field. The farmers employ various ways, like talking to colleagues to gather information about the method they want to implement. Financial rewarding and showing the measures are, according to these farmers, the best ways to motivate other farmers to adopt climate friendly measures.
Imprint This booklet is published in December 2011 and is part of the Climate Farmers project, a project of NAJK and CEJA. The Climate Farmers project is made possible by the Civil Society Organizations and Environment Grant Regulations (SMOM) of NL Agency of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. The findings in this booklet are described by farmers and the findings are checked by CLM (Centre for Agriculture and Environment) if possible. The following young farmer organizations have helped to collect information about the here described farms. Sweden: LRF, Ireland: Macra na Feirme, Spain: COAG, The Netherlands: NAJK. This booklet is also available at www.climatefarmers.eu. Copy editor: NAJK International. Design: Colinda van Ekris. Pictures from Biotrio, WUR, flickr.com and NAJK. All rights reserved.
This is a project of NAJK and CEJA with support of NL Agency
Phone: +31 30 2769869 Mail: email@example.com Internet: www.climatefarmers.eu