Before I started working as a sustainability researcher in the field of agriculture, I was under the impression that milk was just milk. I have learned in the past 5 years that this is not actually the case. Many dairy farmers have become more intentional in how they produce milk. They are using a scientific approach to milk production. Part of this includes assessing the impact that management practices have on the environment. This is something that Trace & Save helps them to do.

I will share some of the scientific approaches I am referring to in this blog. Farmers take soil samples which inform fertiliser use. By knowing what is in the soil, farmers can apply the correct nutrients, in the correct quantities to improve the fertility of the soil. By ensuring that fertiliser is not overused, there is much less risk of excess nutrients being lost to the environment. These excess nutrients have a potential negative environmental impact such as contaminating our fresh water sources. Farmers also measure how effectively they have used water, thereby identifying where they might be able to save on water use in future. Another indicator of environmental impact is a carbon footprint, which farmers use to determine how much greenhouse gases are emitted from their farms, helping them to identify where and how to reduce these emissions.

If you are someone who cares about the environment then milk is not just milk. The way it is produced drastically changes the extent of the environmental impacts associated with each glass you drink. I encourage you to find out where the product comes from and look for proof of whether it is less harmful to the environment than the one on the shelf next to it. The question then remains: Where do you get this proof from?

Advances in agriculture have made it possible to trace the environmental impact of a product. The Trace & Save Sustainability logo that appears on UHT-milk packaged by Woodlands Dairy (First Choice) is an example of this. This logo proves that this milk is clearly different from the product next to it on the shelf. By visiting the Trace and Save website interested consumers can explore the environmental impact that the product they have bought has. These impacts are broken down into different facets of the environment including soil, water, atmosphere and nutrients. The website shows whether farmers have improved in managing these facets since their baseline was measured by Trace & Save. This shows that farmers are putting in effort to lower the impact of their farming practices on the environment.

With it being this easy to trace the impact of a product on the environment, I encourage you to support products that have the Trace & Save logo as they show, with integrity, that sustainable agricultural practices are being implemented.

Marno Fourie

Marno Fourie

Marno is a Trace and Save researcher that works on the Woodlands Dairy Sustainability Project and has been part of the team since January 2013. He studied Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University. He is passionate about using natural resources in a way that leaves it in a better state for the next generation.

Marno loves the outdoors and to explore new places on his 250cc motorbike, which by the way, is a more eco-friendly mode of transport that generates less carbon emissions than his bantam bakkie. He enjoys good food and company. He also likes to look at natural vegetation in the rough when attempting to play a round of golf.

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