Governments and industries across the planet are changing the way they produce goods and services to reduce our collective global carbon footprint, creating a greener future for the next generation.
The farming industry is an important part of this drive for change, and here at Arla, sustainability we’re committed to improving sustainability and working with the farmers that own our cooperating farms to reduce our carbon footprint.
The best place to start with this is to better understand the impact of farming on the environment. One way we do this at Arla is Climate Checks – an independently verified programme which helps farmers identify key areas where they can take steps on their farm to reduce their footprint. We’re going to take a look at the emissions that farms produce and some ways in which we can reduce those emissions and tackle climate change.
How is methane produced from cows?
Cows naturally produce methane as they digest their food in a process called enteric fermentation. Methane emissions from cows occur because their stomach has four sections – it’s why they can eat food inedible to humans and turn it into milk. This process also produces methane which is then expelled into the air and into the atmosphere. Methane reduction is a key focus for Arla farmers, which is why we are working with scientists and researchers to find ways to reduce emissions from our cows without affecting the taste or quality of our milk.
How else does farming produce greenhouse gases?
There are other ways agriculture in general can produce greenhouse gases and pollutants, from the use of machinery to chemical fertilisers, which is why it’s so important to be responsible farmers and minimise impact on the land to ensure it is left in a better place for the next generation.
At Arla we are working hard to reduce our impact and we already produce milk with half the emissions of the global average.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does methane from cows contribute to global warming?
Cows naturally produce methane as they digest, contributing to methane into the atmosphere. After carbon dioxide, methane is the second most abundant gas emitted into the atmosphere by human activity, though it will exist there for less time.
Do humans or cows produce more methane?
While cows produce more methane than humans as a species, the majority of the current methane output of the globe is normally attributed to human agriculture, from gas, coal and oil producers and decay in landfill sites and rubbish tips. This article about methane and climate change has a number of insightful facts and data about methane output.
Does climate affect agriculture?
Yes – as our climate warms , our farms and our agriculture will need to adapt to rapidly changing issues and to overcome challenges including:
• Water shortages for crops
• Heat waves leading to loss of crops
• Flooding of crop fields
• Higher chance of diseased livestock
• Less suitable farming land available
These are just some examples, but there are many more problems – some which we are yet to discover or experience – that the warming of our planet will raise for farmers across the world.