Yorkshire farming co-operative Arla Foods has set out is plan to reduce the carbon footprint of its farms.
Its new report, outlining the collective carbon footprint of 1,964 UK dairy farms, reveals how its farmers are using data to drive down the carbon footprint of its milk.

A Sustainable Future for British Dairy shows that they are already producing milk with 1.13kg CO2 per kg – around half the global average.

It also sets out the most common areas which farmers will focus on to reduce emissions further, and the emerging technologies being trialled, as it to continue its journey to meet its targets of a 30% reduction of CO2 per kg of milk by 2030 – a first step on its journey to carbon net zero.

The largest causes of emissions come from six main areas;

• Cow digestion: (46%)

• Cow feed (where and how it's produced): 37%

• Manure Handling: 9%

• Energy production and usage: 5%

• Emissions from Peat soils: 1%

• Other emissions: 2%

Read more: Arla moves production to Yorkshire

The solutions to reducing dairy emissions are already being worked on by Arla farmers, including generating renewable energy – 27% of Arla’s farmers are already producing green energy from wind or solar.

The company says it is also: 

  • Using precision techniques when spreading slurry – 53% are doing this, reducing air born ammonia by between 30% and 90%
  • Covering slurry tanks (approximately 15% of Arla’s milk comes from farms with covered tanks) and harnessing its power through anaerobic digestors on farm
  • Researching how to speed up carbon sequestration (the process of carbon being taken out of the atmosphere by trees, grass, or hedgerows)
  • Supporting current research to provide greater clarity around the difference in impact of methane and CO2, and develop understanding of how to deal with biogenic methane
  • Developing and trialling new technologies to continue to enhance animal welfare, such as Arla UK 360’s Happy cow measure and cow scanner trials.

A spokesman said the Arla 360 project was a programme designed by the farmers that own Arla to share the responsibility of food production across the whole of the supply chain, from cow to consumer. Farmers continuously explore, develop and practice the highest standards in dairy farming across key areas of farm business.

More than 10,000 dairy farmers in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg are the joint owners of Arla and share all of the profits from the business. 2,400 owners are based in the UK across England, Scotland and Wales contributing around £820 million to the UK economy and supporting over 16,000 jobs. 

The full report is available here on the Arla website.