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Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Carbon footprint of milk production under smallholder dairying in Anand district of Western India: a cradle-to-farm gate life cycle assessment

M. R. Garg A C , B. T. Phondba A , P. L. Sherasia A and H. P. S. Makkar B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Animal Nutrition Group, National Dairy Development Board, Anand-388 001, Gujarat, India.

B Animal Production and Health Division, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, Italy.

C Corresponding author. Email: mrgarg@nddb.coop

Animal Production Science 56(3) 423-436 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN15464
Submitted: 18 August 2015  Accepted: 6 November 2015   Published: 9 February 2016

Abstract

In recent years, the concept of life cycle assessment (LCA) has proven to be useful because of its potential to assess the integral environmental impacts of agricultural products. Developing countries such as India are good candidates for LCA research because of the large contribution of smallholder dairy system to the production of agricultural products such as milk. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to explore the carbon footprint of milk production under the multi-functional smallholder dairy system in Anand district of Gujarat state, western India. A cradle-to-farm gate LCA was performed by covering 60 smallholder dairy farms within 12 geographically distinct villages of the district. The average farm size was 4.0 animals per farm, and the average number of each category of animal was 2.5 lactating cows, 1.4 lactating buffaloes, 1.8 replacement cows, 1.6 replacement buffaloes, 2.0 retired cows, 1.3 retired buffaloes and 1.0 ox per farm. The emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) on CO2-equivalent (CO2-eq) basis from feed production, enteric fermentation and manure management were allocated to fat- and protein-corrected milk (FPCM) on the basis of mass balance, price and digestibility. Emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O from cattle contributed 11.0%, 75.4% and 13.6%, respectively, to the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The contribution of CO2, CH4 and N2O from buffalo was 8.2%, 80.5% and 11.3%, respectively, to the total GHG emissions of farms. The average carbon footprint (CF) of cow milk was 2.3, 1.9 and 2.0 kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM on mass, economic and digestibility basis, respectively, whereas for buffalo, milk CF was 3.0, 2.5 and 2.7 kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM, respectively. On the basis of digestibility allocation, emissions from retired (>10 years of age and incapable of or ceased producing milk) cows and buffaloes were 1571.3 and 2556.1 kg CO2-eq/retirement year, respectively. Overall, the CF of milk production under the smallholder dairy system in Anand district was 2.2 kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM, which reduced to 1.7 kg CO2-eq/kg FPCM when milk, manure, finance and insurance were considered as economic functions of the smallholder system. The CF was lower by 65% and 22% for cow and buffalo milk, respectively, than were the estimates of FAO for southern Asia, and this was mainly attributed to difference in the sources of GHG emissions, manure management systems, feed digestibility and milk production data used by FAO.

Additional keywords: attributional life cycle assessment, climate change, co-product allocation, emission intensity.


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