European dairy co-operative, Arla Foods and global science-based company, Royal DSM are set to start a large-scale, on-farm pilot with the methane-reducing feed additive Bovaer, involving 10,000 dairy cows across three European countries.

Research and on-farm trials have shown that Bovaer can reduce methane emissions by around 30%, according to Arla Foods.

Methane emission is one of the dairy industry’s biggest climate challenges. In fact, 40% per cent of the total emissions from Arla Foods’ farms come from their cows’ digestion of feed.

But, according to the company, its farmer owners are among the most climate-efficient dairy producers in the world with an average CO2 equivalent emission of 1,15kg per kilogramme of raw milk.

The Arla Foods/Royal DSM pilot will, as mentioned, involve 10,000 dairy cows in more than 50 farms in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

The on-farm pilots in practice
Throughout the summer and autumn of 2022, Arla Foods will work with its farmer owners to ensure a diverse group of farms featured in the pilot programme. During the on-farm pilots, farmers will receive Bovaer from their feed suppliers and mix it into the feed for their dairy cows. Arla will collect milk samples for analysis and comparison to milk from dairy cows that are not fed the feed additive. If preliminary findings are as expected, Arla Foods plans to double the pilot project to include 20,000 cows in 2023.

“Climate change requires urgent action, and we believe that dairy is part of the solution,” said executive vice president and head of agriculture and sustainability at Arla Foods, Hanne Søndergaard.

“The results from our initial trials with Bovaer at both a research facility and one of our Danish farms are very promising.

“Together with DSM, we are now gaining practical on-farm experience by applying the feed additive in one of its largest pilot progammes to date, and one of Arla’s biggest climate projects overall, with 10,000 cows,” he said.

He added:

“Leaders of more than 100 countries recognise the urgency of cutting methane emissions as they pledged to make a difference at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, a few months ago.

“The recent IPCC report on the impact of climate change tells us there’s no time to lose when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming livestock farming will be key to this and forward-thinking companies like Arla Foods are already working hard on sustainable dairy.

“Through our scientific innovation and collaboration, we can help achieve a sizeable reduction in emissions by changing the feed that animals eat every day and in doing so, support the health of animals, people and planet,” says Mark van Nieuwland, Vice President of Bovaer® at DSM.