Why commit to a low-carbon dairy farming approach?

The final word in our low-carbon dairy farm web series is entrusted to Ghislain de Viron, vice president of FNPL, and above all a producer committed on a daily basis and from the beginning to the carbon dairy farm approach low. After three CAP’2ER® diagnoses carried out on his farm, Ghislain de Viron takes an informed look at the levers of individual action to reduce the carbon footprint of milk production, thus contributing to the maintenance of the entire dairy sector. The Sarthois breeder participated in a question-and-answer game to summarize the highlights of the process.

How can the sector embrace the carbon footprint theme and appear even more responsible?

Ghislain de Viron: “The dairy sector has been aware of ecological issues for almost 20 years. The Charter of Good Agricultural Practices, for example, is already widely implemented on farms. The objectives of low carbon dairy farm must follow the same path. Today, one in three dairy farms has made its diagnosis CAP’2ER®. This leaves 65% of breeders to mobilize in the short term. Indeed, in 10 years, it will be too late to limit global warming to the 1.5 or 2°C estimated by scientists. Agriculture must adapt to be “climate smart”. Improving farming practices is the basis of this and it is by accelerating the deployment of the low carbon dairy farm approach that we will see the effects. »

“We can also go further in our reduction carbon footprint giving the sector the tools to be more virtuous. Innovation can be a source of progress. The use of feed additives to reduce methane emissions from cows is an interesting example. Others will follow, I hope. »

How do you think future generations of breeders will approach their profession from an environmental impact perspective?

“The acquisition of the environmental issue by the younger generations is not in doubt. First of all, because they “bath in it”. Awareness is more evident for them than for older generations who discovered these issues late in life. Young and aspiring farmers have learned about agriculture through the prism of the issue of global warming. Environmental conservation is omnipresent in agricultural training today. »

“By definition, agriculture is an adaptive profession. Working with the living, the farmer can never repeat the same practices. Climate change is at the top of his concerns. If on a day-to-day basis the breeder has little control over the question, he must know that he, in turn, can affect tomorrow’s climatic conditions. We are told that what we experienced in 2022 will surely be the norm in 2050. Younger generations will have to deal with it, but the whole industry can now help to prevent it from getting worse! »

If you had only one argument to give to breeders to get them down the low carbon road, what would it be?

“Even if the stakes go beyond the operation of a farm, we cannot convince a dairy farmer to change his daily practices by offering to save the world. of Cniel, through its awareness actions and its reliance on the CAP’2ER® diagnosis, makes pragmatic arguments: reducing your carbon footprint also means improving the economic health of your farm. The first results of the farmer’s commitment are seen in his portfolio. »

To be more virtuous is to be more autonomous. By reducing inputs, we reduce costs.

“This also means avoiding waste. A simple gesture to put in place is to adjust the consumption of protein in the diet. The level of milk urea is an indicator that is easily obtained and analyzed (Editor’s note: the ideal level varies between 0.2 and 0.3 g/liter). With a minimum of 4 tests per month, or even a systematic check that is spreading, it is not difficult to quickly correct the ration of your cows. It is again the reduction of the age at first calving, from 3 to 2 years old, that represents savings both in financial terms and in working time. Finally, in a context of energy crisis and inflation, reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers will be a financial benefit, but also an environmental one. »

Who should the breeder turn to first to begin a process of reducing their carbon footprint?

“The prerequisite for lower emission practices is to be aware of one’s consumption and emissions. The first step in reducing your carbon footprint is the CAP’2ER® diagnosis. This is the priority. The breeder should contact his departmental federation. He already knows the local interlocutors, he just ignores all the services they can offer him. »

“Farmers who are trying to get involved often imagine that the approach of low-carbon dairy farms is a stumbling block. A CAP’2ER® diagnosis only takes three hours! Accompanied by an advisor, the selector draws up an initial assessment as well as a list of clear and concrete actions. The organization of the farmer’s daily work can also be improved. Those who claim lack of time to start, no longer have an excuse. »

What advice would you give to breeders entering this process?

“Dare to push the door of the accompanying structures: CRIEL, advisory bodies, chambers of agriculture and take time to ask questions. You are not alone! It is this first moment that is most difficult to overcome. Then, you progress only towards the positive. If the first diagnosis is a starting point to show the way, the following ones, every two or three years, are encouragement. Measuring the progress of your progress is a solid motivation to keep going. This is proof that hard work pays off. »

“I congratulate the multiplayers who are starting first. I would tell them that the process is worth taking time and above all done over time. »

What is your wish for the future of dairy farming in France?

“I am optimistic. The dairy sector is moving in the right direction. French dairy farming is the most sustainable international model. Our produce feeds millions of people around the world. I would therefore like the sector to continue to develop and accelerate the deployment of the low carbon dairy farm approach. »

“We are fortunate to be able to produce while respecting the environment, especially contributing to soil fertility, biodiversity and carbon storage. Let’s not miss this opportunity. »

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