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Economic and environmental evaluation of three goal-vision based scenarios for organic dairy farming in Denmark

  • Oudshoorn, Frank W.
  • Sørensen, Claus Aage G.
  • de Boer, Imke I.J.M.
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    The objective of this study was to explore the sustainability of future organic dairy farming systems in Denmark, by evaluating the economic and environmental consequences of three scenarios at the farm level based on different visions of future sustainability leading to different farm-based goals. The future sustainable organic dairy farming systems were deduced from participative sessions with stakeholders, and used to define specific scenarios and related key parameters. Parameterization of the scenarios was based on model simulations and the invoking of expert knowledge. Each scenario was designed to fulfil different aspects of sustainability. The business as usual scenario (BAU) was driven by economic incentives and implemented new technologies and measures to enhance productivity and efficiency. This scenario was expected to be the mainstream strategy of future organic dairy production in Denmark. In the animal welfare scenario (ANW), economic efficiency was subordinate to animal welfare, and measures to improve animal welfare, such as lower milk yield, extra grazing area and a deep-litter barn, were incorporated. The environmental scenario (ENV) was designed to minimize N losses into the environment, reduce emission of greenhouse gases and the use of fossil energy, and was based on self-sufficiency regarding nutrients and feed. The economic evaluation of the scenarios was based on quantification of farm profitability (i.e. net profit), whereas environmental evaluation was based on the quantification of the N-surplus per ha, emission of greenhouse gases, and use of fossil energy per kg energy-corrected milk (ECM). Compared to prolonging the current main stream strategy (BAU), the evaluation of scenarios revealed that investing in animal welfare comprised trade-offs regarding farm profitability, climate change and the use of fossil energy. In ANW, net profit per farm was almost 39 k[euro] lower than in BAU, whereas emission of greenhouse gases and energy per kg ECM was 8% and 3% higher, respectively. Minimizing environmental impact in ENV reduced local as well as global environmental impact without an economic trade-off. Greenhouse gas emission per kg ECM was 5% lower and fossil energy use was 11% lower than in BAU. The N-surplus of ENV was 80 kg per ha, whereas the N-surplus was approximately 116 in both BAU and ANW. Prolonging the current main stream strategy (BAU) resulted in a high local environmental impact, a moderate global environmental impact and a high economic risk related to changes in milk price or costs.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Agricultural Systems.

    Volume (Year): 104 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (April)
    Pages: 315-325

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:104:y:2011:i:4:p:315-325
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/agsy

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    1. Thomassen, M.A. & van Calker, K.J. & Smits, M.C.J. & Iepema, G.L. & de Boer, I.J.M., 2008. "Life cycle assessment of conventional and organic milk production in the Netherlands," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 96(1-3), pages 95-107, March.
    2. Refsgaard, Karen & Halberg, Niels & Kristensen, Erik Steen, 1998. "Energy utilization in crop and dairy production in organic and conventional livestock production systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 599-630, August.
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