Climate-friendly milk and biogas production on Gut Hülsenberg
In 2012, Gut Hülsenberg worked together with the Chamber of Agriculture of Lower Saxony to work out the carbon footprint of their milk production. This carbon footprint was recalculated in 2020 and shows what steps have been taken since 2012.
Greenhouse gases per kg ECM have been reduced by a further 5 % since 2012. To make it easier to classify the values, we have put together a comparison with the carbon footprint results of other farms (see Fig. 1). Figure 2 highlights the strengths of Gut Hülsenberg with regards to climate protection. This information has been used to identify areas for improvement.
Efficient fodder production
Alongside cows’ digestion, the cultivation of crops for fodder is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions (see Fig. 3). The most important determining factors regarding the emissions resulting from fodder production are a suitable nitrogen fertilisation and a cultivation of the areas that does not damage the soil. In general, fodder generates less CO2 equivalents than feed concentrate. High fodder yields, low field and ensiling losses and an optimal silage quality all contribute to the high feed efficiency and reduced the carbon footprint of Gut Hülsenberg. Soya meal is not used.
Internal utilisation of liquid manure
The utilisation of the liquid manure produced by the biogas plants connected to Gut Hülsenberg has several positive effects. Airborne emissions are significantly reduced by the partly gas-tight storage of the liquid manure. In addition, the anaerobic fermentation of the liquid manure in the biogas plants generates energy that can be used by the estate and the public energy grid. The improved nutrient availability in the fermented liquid manure is another advantage. It is used as an organic fertiliser for fodder production and is therefore fed back into the system.
High lifetime productivity as a success factor
At Gut Hülsenberg, lifetime productivity is 21.7 kg ECM, an improvement of 27% in comparison to 2012. This is achieved through healthy cows with long lifespans and high performance. The carbon footprint calculation done by the Chamber of Agriculture does not directly take the lifetime productivity of the cows into account. However, a higher lifetime productivity means that less offspring are needed for the restocking. This in turn reduces the emissions of the farm, as young animals generate high amounts of greenhouse gases while being reared but do not produce any meat or milk in return.
Uncover further potential
The constant optimisation of processes, as well as the further increase of the vitality, lifespan, and therefore lifetime productivity, of the cows are the focus for further reducing the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from milk production at Gut Hülsenberg. Crop cultivation measures will also be looked at in more detail, and their feasibility will be examined. For example, the amounts of humus in maize crop areas can be significantly improved with underseeding. This can has a positive impact on the estate’s carbon footprint.