Abteilung Grünland und Futterbau/Ökologischer Landbau


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Resource efficiency and management optimization in dairy farming

INTERREG 4A Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N., funded by the EU (European Union)
R. Loges, T. Biegemann, S. Chen, P. Schönbach, M. Kämper, M. Schmeer, A. Herrmann, K. Søegaard, I. Sillebak-Kristensen, O. Edlefsen  and F. Taube

Fig. 1: Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N
region (www.interreg4a.de)

Dairy farming is of high economic importance throughout the Region of Southern Denmark (DK) - Schleswig-K.E.R.N. region (DE) (=Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N. region) (Fig. 1). In 2007 the 4000 regional dairy farms produced 2.8 billions kg of raw milk using a forage production area of about 200,000 ha (data 2007). Recent data indicate that the dairy farming sector and the milk production in this region is subjected to a rapidly growing trend in the future.

In the Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N. region, dairy farming is dominated by high input systems. Typically, indoor-housing is practiced with year-round silage feeding (mainly maize silage) and high ratios of concentrates. Such systems commonly aim for maximum milk performance per cow. 

Due to high energy and nitrogen inputs such dairy farming systems must be valued critically regarding their high potential of (nitrate) leaching, greenhouse gas (CO2, N2O) emission, and the use of non-renewable resources. Furthermore, in the target region the expansion of maize cultivation area (mainly as silage for forage but also as substrate for the growing number of biogas plants) partly at the expense of permanent grassland has led to significant decreases in the grassland area, i.e. 5 % between 2003 and 2005 in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. In Syddanmark, Denmark, the distinctive increase in maize cultivation area between 2002 and 2007 exceeded 50 %. The replacement of permanent grassland through maize holds large environmental risks, like increasing soil and nutrient losses through erosion, leaching, and gaseous emissions. Therefore, the current common dairy farming system in the Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N. region in combination with the expected expansion of milk production may conflict with both the European Climate Change Program and the water-framework directive. 

The overall project aim is the joint development of optimised site-specific dairy forage production systems in the Syddanmark-Schleswig-K.E.R.N. region. Such systems should ideally be characterised by increased resource-use efficiencies (i.e. water, energy, fertilizer, …) and thus, by reduced environmental burdens. Therefore, a regional Danish-German cooperation was started to initiate a dairy farming network linking scientists, advisors and farmers. The networking focus on:

  • Knowledge transfer/exchange among project partners.
  • Filling gaps of knowledge through joint experiments and data exchange highlighting environmental effects of different forage production systems.
  • Analysing forage production in common dairy farming systems in the region of Northern Germany (permanent grassland, temporary grassland) and Southern Denmark (silage maize) with special respect to system inputs (energy, fertilizer, …). Additionally, attention is paid on semi-intensive pasture-based production systems. Productivity and environmental relevance will be assessed and compared among the different forage production systems.
  • Providing and implementation of knowledge (findings) to practice (e.g. workshops, informative meetings for farmers, consultants, and policy makers …).







Dr. Ralf Loges, Thorsten Biegemann, Shimeng Chen, Dr. Philip Schönbach, Mirja Kämper, Maria Schmeer, Professor Dr. Antje Herrmann, Professor Dr. Friedhelm Taube
University of Kiel, Germany
Institute of Crop Science and Plant Breeding
- Grass and Forage Science/ Organic Agriculture -
Hermann-Rodewald-Str. 9
D 24118 Kiel, Germany
Tel. +49 431 880 4654
Fax  +49 431 880 4568
Email: rloges@email.uni-kiel.de

Dr. Karen Søegaard, Dr. Ib Sillebak-Kristensen, Ove Edlefsen
Aarhus University Denmark, Denmark
Department of Agroecology and Environment
Research Centre Foulum
Blichers Allé
Postbox 50
DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark
Tel: +45 89991834
Email: Karen.Soegaard@agrsci.dk
Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Aarslev, Denmark

Ove Edlefsen
Jyndevad experimental station/ Department of Agroecology and Environment
Flensborgvej 22
DK 6360 Tinglev, Denmark
Department of Food Science

Time frame: 2010-12

Financing: The project is financially supported by the EU Interreg IVA programme.



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