The integration of technology, satellites, and data management into agriculture has opened up exciting possibilities for the future, especially in the context of sustainable agriculture. For sustainable dairy farming, leveraging data, satellite insights, and advanced tools to optimize resource utilization, reduce waste, and protect the environment, is the future. The Trace & Save system, which has data-driven management at the centre of it, uses multiple measures of on-farm indicators to attain a trustworthy, holistic measure of agricultural sustainability. Let Trace & Save help you on your data-driven management journey towards sustainable agriculture.
Looking back over ten years of collecting data from pasture-based dairy farmers, it is encouraging to see that there has been progress made with regards to improved sustainability. Two of the main goals of Trace & Save is to support farmers to farm in a more sustainable manner and to create evidence of progress where it is being made.
The reductions in emissions on the 20 pasture-based dairy farms over the past five years are an encouragement to any farm that would like to reduce their environmental impact. The most significant improvements have come from increased feed conversion efficiency, a higher proportion of pasture in the diet, and lower N fertiliser application rates.
The value of regenerative farming is the desire of farmers to reduce their environmental impact and align their practices with the services that are inherently part of all ecosystems. But this is not a new concept at all.
Production systems that are highly reliant on fertiliser is exposed to high risk and is severely influenced by fertiliser prices. Nutrient circularity is a concept which relates to the efficient use and recycling of nutrients in a closed-loop system. This approach can help to reduce the need for synthetic fertilisers and other inputs, increase resource use efficiency, and support sustainable agricultural and food systems.
Taking advantage, or greater advantage, of biological nitrogen fixation, seems like a logical option for a chemical nitrogen substitute. Adding legumes to your cropping system, and managing them well, has great potential to add significant amounts of nitrogen to your system, in a more sustainable way than chemical fertilisers.
Every farmer should assess their system and see where they still have opportunities to improve. This will probably show them whether their stocking rate is too low, too high, or just right. The data in this case study would suggest that very few farms are in the just right category.
The purpose of this article is purely to provoke thought. To ask you to consider where you fall in the spectrum of techonogist and environmentalist, and to think about how this perspective influences your view of the solutions that are presented to you every day.
We have recently implemented a new assessment which assigns each farm participating with Trace & Save a sustainability status. The purpose of this status is not necessary to categorise each farm and say whether they are good or not. It is rather to identify where the farm is on their sustainability journey.
The purpose of this business case is to investigate the association between the economic and environmental facets of sustainability related to milk production on dairy farms in South Africa.