Dairy cattle production systems (DPS) are an essential backbone of European agriculture. They provide society with high-quality protein products from fibrous feed resources that could not be digested by humans or converted to human food by monogastric animals. However, their optimal level of circularity is met to a limited extent due to the current dependency of DPS on external input such as concentrate feeds and mineral fertilizers.
To this end, by using multi-criteria assessments and decision support, modeling, and management tools, DairyMix cooperates to the development of sustainable circular mixed farming systems for dairy production across Europe and Latin America.
DairyMix applies a whole-system research approach for sustainable and circular mixed dairy production systems.
As a first step, the status quo of mixed farming systems for dairy production is assessed by means of case studies and statistical data. By analyzing different gradients of crop-livestock integration and circularity, opportunities for enhanced feed autonomy, nutrient utilization, and agroforestry practices are explored. Furthermore, data from the DATAMAN database and the OTICE (Online Barn Climate and Emission Control Tool) system will be analyzed using linear statistics and supervised machine learning algorithms.
Moreover, DairyMix tackles carbon and nutrient circularity as critical drivers for the design of future mitigation strategies for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and nutrient losses in mixed dairy farming systems. To this end, carbon and nutrient flows will be modeled using data from case of study farms with the ultimate goal of developing whole-farm and regional circular models for mixed dairy production systems.
Lastly, DairyMix will assess the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of mixed dairy farming systems by applying a multicriteria approach. These results will enable the identification of potential synergies and trade-offs associated with different diversification and circularity options for key European and Latin American mixed dairy production systems.
The DairyMix results will be made available through the MilKey/DairyMix multi-actor platform. This will not only be a decision support tool for farmers but will also follow a consumer-oriented approach to inform about concepts of circular and sustainable mixed dairy production systems. The platform will also provide context-specific management strategies for key European regions and Latin America.
In all, the approach followed DairyMix aims to be a major step forward in achieving sustainability and circularity in mixed dairy and crop production systems by developing flexible and context-specific concepts and strategies.
After intense discussions at the DairyMix kick-off meeting, all of the case studies that will participate in the project have been selected. Their suitability was comprehensively assessed through constant communication and several workshops between project partners.
Furthermore, thanks to the coordinated work between the different partners of the DairyMix project, on-farm data collection has started. In this context, over the past few months, intensive work has been carried out with the final aim of developing an indicator framework to analyze the sustainability and circularity of mixed dairy production systems across key production systems in Europe and Latin America. As a result, specific materials (data collection template, data collection guidelines, etc.) are now available to the different data collectors of the partner institutions to facilitate data collection.
Likewise, the constant communication between the partners in charge of modeling the different case studies in DairyMix has led to a strategic alignment of the aims and the tools to be applied, and collation of OTICE data from the different case studies has started.
Lastly, the DairyMix coordination team (ATB-Germany) is successfully organizing a series of workshops with the objective of favoring synergies and pathways for collaboration between different “ERA-NET 2021 Joint Call” projects in the field of circularity.
Group picture of the DairyMix coordination, WP2, WP3 and WP4 team during the meeting hosted by TEAGASC (Ireland) for the design and development of the data collection tools
Prof Barbara Amon - Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy, ATB, Germany
- IRELAND: University College Dublin - Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Teagasc
- ITALY: University of Milan
- POLAND: University of Zielona Góra
- FRANCE: French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, INRAE
- NORWAY: Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research - Ruralis Institute for Rural and Regional Research
- BELGIUM: Flanders Research Institute for agriculture, fisheries and food, ILVO
- ARGENTINA: Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria
- The DairyMix project starts on 1 March 2022 and runs until 28 February 2025.
- Website: www.dairymix.eu
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dairymix-project/
- Introduction meeting December 2021
- Annual DairyMix meeting October 2023