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Assessment of two modern milk farms (low input versus high external input) in Switzerland focused on sustainability and resilience criteria

Schmid, Otto and Näf, Philippe (2014) Assessment of two modern milk farms (low input versus high external input) in Switzerland focused on sustainability and resilience criteria. In: Proceedings of the 11th European IFSA Symposium, 1-4 April 2014 in Berlin/Germany. WS 2.11. , pp. 1845-1850.

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PDF - English

Document available online at: http://ifsa.boku.ac.at/cms/fileadmin/Proceeding2014/WS_2_11_Schmid.pdf


In many countries there is a trend in milk production to either maximize the milk yield with high inputs and modern milking technology or to choose a low external input strategy with emphasis on grazing. What about the sustainability and resilience of such types of farms? In this paper a comparison of two modern milk farms in the same region and village in Switzerland with similar climatic conditions and new free-range stables has been made. Both farms are run collectively. Farm A is a non-organic milk farm (integrated production) with milk robot machinery and high input of feed concentrates for milk production without using pasture but with a concrete outdoor run. Farm B is an organic milk farm with consequent low input milk production with full pasture access during the season, outdoor run in the winter as well as a non-use of cereal-based concentrates anymore due to consequent breeding efforts. Both farms have been assessed using the RISE 2.0 system developed by the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) in Zollikofen in collaboration with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland. This system uses 10 main sustainability criteria, categories and indicates through benchmarking the state of the farm in different areas (positive, to be verified, problematic).
The overall sustainability assessment showed that none of the two farms is in a problematic area. Both are economically successful. Both strategies, if well managed, can be profitable. The farms score socially well due to the collective management. Regarding environmental sustainability: soil usage and water management is positive; nutrient flow and ammoniac emissions could still be improved in both farms. Farm B uses 40 % less energy with 30 % lower milk production/animal/year and score better in biodiversity than farm A. Animal health and welfare of the two farms is difficult to judge with RISE 2.0 system, but it is interesting to look from a resilience perspective. Farm A has a technology-based system of analytical and electronic tools (health status permanently controlled and irregularities reported). Direct observations by the farmers in the stable seem less important, although also done. The strategy of Farm B is based on a much lower feeding and milk productivity level, which reduces the risk of several diseases. The farmers observe mainly their animals on pasture or in the outdoor run and milking station. However their consequent grazing system, with varying climatic impact on the fodder quality needs a very well planned pasture system. It is interesting that both farms have relatively low costs for veterinarians. Further reflections are needed in which way the sustainability and resilience of such type of milk farms can be better assessed and improved.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:milk farms, milk robots, sustainability assessment, resilience, low input, high input, Departement of Socio-Economic Sciences
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems > Dairy cattle
Farming Systems
Farming Systems > Buildings and machinery
Research affiliation: Switzerland > ETHZ - Agrarwissenschaften
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Society > Economics & market > Farm economics
Related Links:http://ifsa.boku.ac.at/cms/fileadmin/Proceeding2014/WS_2_11_Schmid.pdf
Deposited By: Schmid, Otto
ID Code:26820
Deposited On:26 Sep 2014 11:41
Last Modified:16 Feb 2022 10:36
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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