Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
  • Publication
    Water footprinting of dairy farming in Ireland
    In the context of global water scarcity, water footprints have become an important sustainability indicator for food production systems. To improve the water footprint of the dairy sector, insight into freshwater consumption of individual farms is required. The objective of this study was to determine the primary contributors to freshwater consumption (i.e. water use that does not return to the same watershed) at farm-gate level, expressed as a water footprint, for the production of one kg of fat-and-protein corrected milk (FPCM), on 24 Irish dairy farms. This is the first study that uses detailed farm level data to assess the water footprint of a large set of Irish dairy farms. The water footprint comprises of the consumption of soil moisture due to evapotranspiration (green water), and the consumption of ground and surface water (blue water), and includes freshwater used for cultivation of crops for concentrate production, on-farm cultivation of grass or fodder and water required for animal husbandry and farm maintenance. The related impact of freshwater consumption on global water stress from producing milk in Ireland was also computed. Over the 24 farms evaluated, the production of milk consumed on average 690 L water/kg FPCM, ranging from 534 L/kg FPCM to 1107 L/kg FPCM. Water required for pasture production contributed 85% to the water footprint, 10% for imported forage production (grass in the form of hay and silage), concentrates production 4% and on-farm water use ∼1%. The average stress weighted water footprint was 0.4 L/kg FPCM across the farms, implying that each litre of milk produced potentially contributed to fresh water scarcity equivalent to the consumption of 0.4 L of freshwater by an average world citizen. The variation of volumetric water footprints amongst farms was mainly related to the level of feed grown on-farm and levels of forages and concentrates imported onto the farm. Using farm specific data from a subset of Irish dairy farms allowed this variability in WF to be captured, and contributes to the identification of improvement options. The biggest contribution to the water footprint of milk was from grass grown with green water, which is a plentiful resource in Ireland. This study also indicates an opportunity for present and future milk production systems to source feed ingredients from non-water stressed areas to further reduce the burden on freshwater resources, especially in countries that utilise confinement systems that have a higher proportion of concentrate feed in the dairy cow's diet.
      829Scopus© Citations 40
  • Publication
    Predicting freshwater demand on Irish dairy farms using farm data
    Freshwater use in agriculture is a matter of discussion due to rising concerns over water scarcity, availability and pollution. To make robust predictions of freshwater demand, a large dataset of agricultural data is needed to discern the relationships between production parameters and water demand. The objective of this research was to predict freshwater demand (L yr−1) on Irish dairy farms based on a minimal set of farm data. A detailed water footprint (WF) was calculated for 20 dairy farms for 2014 and 2015, and the relationships between the WF and agricultural inputs explored via a mixed modelling procedure, to develop a minimal footprinting solution. The WF comprised of the consumption of soil moisture due to evapotranspiration (green water, GW) and ground and surface water (blue water, BW). The performance of the models was validated using an independent data set of five dairy farms. The GW model was applied to 221 dairy farms to establish the relationship between the GWF of milk and economic performance. The average total volumetric WF of the 20 farms was 778 L/kg fat and protein corrected milk (L/kg FPCM) (range 415¿1338 L/kg FPCM). Freshwater for pasture production made up 93% of the GW footprint. Grass grown, imported forages and concentrates fed were all significant predictors of GW. The relative prediction error (RPE) of the GW model was 11.3%. Metered on-farm water and concentrates were both significant predictors of BW. The RPE of the BW model was 3.4%. When applied to 221 dairy farms ranked by net margin per hectare, there was a trend (P < 0.05) towards higher profitability as the GWF decreased, indicating that the GWF of dairy farms can be improved by implementing good management practices aligned with improving profitability.
      363Scopus© Citations 4