The Canadian Milk Production Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) Update conducted by Groupe AGECO and released in January 2019 assesses several environmental issues in milk production, including carbon footprint, water consumption, and land use. Its findings indicate that the Canadian dairy sector has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world!
The LCA update characterizes the environmental performance of Canadian milk production in 2016 and compares it with data from 2011. In 2012, the first Lifecycle Assessment of Milk Production was conducted and published under the Dairy Research Cluster (2010-2013) and integrated into a comprehensive online tool called Dairy Farms + under the Dairy Research Cluster 2 (2013-2018). Dairy Farms + is available to every Canadian dairy farmer for environmental self-assessment and benchmarking at DairyFarmsPlus.ca.
Informed by science, the LCA update results demonstrate that Canadian dairy farmers adopt practices that benefit the environment. Practices like more crop rotations, improved manure management, reduced tillage and precision agriculture techniques, as well as increased milk production per cow, show continuous improvements in these environmental profiles.
KEY FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
- Milk produced in Canada has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world. A litre produced in Canada emits 0.94 kg CO2 eq, which is about 1/3 the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, compared to the global average.
- Carbon footprint, water consumption, and land use associated with milk production have decreased by 7%, 6%, and 11%, respectively, in the past five years.
- As a result of improvements in animal nutrition, genetics, and housing, milk production per cow increased by 13% since 2011.
- In 2016, Canadian milk production was responsible for generating only 1.3% of Canada’s total GHG emissions.