Mitigation and adaptation for the Australian dairy industry

Mitigation and adaptation for the Australian dairy industry

Background

The Mitigation and Adaptation for the Australian Dairy Industry (MAADI) project provided on-farm demonstration and validation of climate change mitigation and adaptation options, strategies, technologies and techniques for the Australian dairy industry.

Project outline

Based at DemoDAIRY in south west Victoria, researchers conducted a series of field trials and laboratory and modelling studies measuring greenhouse gas emissions under a range of management strategies. Model validation and simulation of alternate forages aimed to give producers greater confidence in managing levels of production under future climate change scenarios.

Management strategies tested included cultivation practices, dairy sludge application and irrigation allocations.

A second component of the project, managed by Dairy Australia, was focused on demonstrating (on commercial dairy farms) those strategies and technologies that have already been proven and therefore are the basis for any dairy farmer wanting to explore adaptation and mitigation options for their farm. More information about this component is available on the Dairy Australia website.

Results

Results indicated that incorporating alternate forage species into the feedbase can increase profitability of dairy systems in warmer and drier future climate scenarios. Deep-rooted forage species, such as lucerne, and double cropping systems, such as winter wheat followed by summer brassica, showed potential at the sites modelled.

Forage samples were analysed for digestibility and methane gas yield, with a moderate relationship between methane production and digestibility demonstrated for a range of forage crops. The data will be integral for the development of forage-based feeding systems designed to mitigate methane emissions.

Field experiments testing the effect of applying nitrogen to the forage crop in the form of dairy sludge showed higher nitrous oxide emissions compared to both the control crop and the crop treated with inorganic nitrogen fertiliser. The study will provide preliminary data on nitrous oxide emissions from different nitrogen sources on dairy farms in southern Australia.

Outcomes

The activities undertaken in MAADI have resulted in:

  • Resources (including case studies, booklets, workshops) suitable for a range of audiences that can be easily updated and maintained into the future
  • Improved models to predict the impact of future climate scenarios on the feedbase of southern Australian dairy systems
  • Preliminary data on the potential value of alternate forages as an option to mitigate methane emission intensities on dairy systems in southern Australia
  • Preliminary data on nitrous oxide emissions from different nitrogen sources on diary farms in southern Australia.

Related resources

Titlesort descending Excerpt
MAADI fact sheet Fact sheet profiling the completed project 'Mitigation and Adaptation for the Australian Dairy Industry'.