Secretariat

Annette Pontillo
Institute of Organic Farming

Trenthorst 32
23847 Westerau
Phone: +49 4539 8880 0
ol@thuenen.de



Climate change impacts and sustainability of farming systems

Project

 (c) Thünen-Insitut

Climate change impacts and sustainability of farming systems - assessments in a network of pilot farms

Agricultural activities of farms and the activities’ contributions to climate change are highly complex. Organic and conventional farms are different in methods, input and yield level. It is unknown if and how environmental effects and sustainability of farms differ systematically with respect to farming system and region. Climate [change] impacts of agricultural production in 80 organic and conventional dairy farms and cash crop farms in Germany are analyzed and modelled.

Background and Objective

Research methods on  sustainability analyses based on whole farm approaches are only rarely available, particularly with regard to real farms acting in the actual economic and legal setting. This is where the project focuses on: A network of organic and conventional so-called pilot farms is established in Germany to facilitate long-term systemic research. . Two research topics are addressed:

a) Greenhouse gas emissions of farming systems: Organic and conventional farming systems are analysed with respect to emissions of CO2, N2O and CH4 on the farm level. Greenhouse gas emissions in plant and milk production are modelled, the main drivers of emissions are identified and from this, mitigation strategies are deducted. b) Sustainability of farming systems: Indicators that describe and compare soil fertility, soil protection (soil erosion, soil compaction, humus content), water protection issues, biodiversity and landscape aspects are analysed to describe environmental sustainability of farming systems.

Approach

40 organic and 40 conventional German farms were explored with respect to dairying and cropping from 2009 to 2014. Whole-farm greenhouse gas balances were calculated on basis of farm and analytical data. All relevant pre-chain and farm processes and emissions as well as energy, nitrogen and carbon flows and land use changes were considered.

Data and Methods

To include a wide range of site and management conditions 80 organic and conventional farms were selected from four German regions in a paired approach (one organic and one conventional farm located close to each other form a pair of dairy farms or cash crop farms, respectively). Farm management data were assessed from 2009 to 2014 by interviews with the farmers and their available records. In the first years, samples of feedstuff, livestock manure, soils and plants were taken and analysed. Wheat yields and clover grass yields were determined on the farms. Greenhouse gas emissions were modelled with the software REPRO. Additionally, the effects of different modelling approaches in milk production on greenhouse gas emissions from enteric fermentation and manure were studied in detail.

Results

The results show a high variability of greenhouse gas flows depending on site conditions, farm structure, intensity and management. Critical emissions points and insecurities in modelling were identified. First steps to develop an advisory concept on climate smart agriculture were done.

In detail, we found:

In all parameters and all results the group of organic farms showed to be far more diverse than the group of conventional farms. The annual milk yield also varied widely between the organic farms which increased heterogeneity in all product related results.

On average, the organic dairy cows had lower milk yileds than the conventional dairy cows. For this reason, all average product related emissions were higher for the organic farms.

Comparing CO2 balances of the organic and conventional farms in the South and in the West as opposed to the emission only, the picture changed. The CO2 balance also takes pre-chain emissions into account (such as production of chemical-synthetic fertilizers or buying feedstuffs form abroad) and also considers CO2 storage in soils. The CO2 balance revealed that on average, organic farms work with lower energy input (predominantly because they do not use chemical-synthetic fertilizers for feedstuff production) and bind more CO2 in their soils (mainly because of a high share of clover-grass in the crop rotations). Conventional farms reached their higher milk yields by feeding maize silage and concentrates produced on farm and off farm (using large inputs of chemical nitrogen fertilizers). Using soy bean extraction feeds, which are banned from use in organic farming, leads to CO2 emissions from soils (due to land use change from rain forest to arable land). On average, the animal related CO2 balance was lower for organic than for conventional farms, while the product related CO2 balance was not different per kg of energy corrected milk.

Enteric methane emissions had the largest share on the emissions (both animal related and product related). To a large extent, enteric emissions are genetically given but can nevertheless be decreased by offering high quality roughage and a ration adequate for the cows’ milk yield. The method by which enteric emissions are determined largely effects the level of results. For that reason, one and the same method must be used if comparisons are made (e.g. comparing farms or systems).

Emissions from dairy cow excreta also had a high share on the overall emissions. No differences were found between straw based and slurry based systems. While some of these emissions from excreta are inevitable, the largest share can be reduced considerably by applying well-established methods during storage and application of manures.

Links and Downloads

www.pilotbetriebe.de

Thünen-Contact


Involved external Thünen-Partners


Funding Body

  • Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau (BÖLN)
    (national, öffentlich)
  • Federal Ministry of Food und Agriculture (BMEL)
    (national, öffentlich)

Duration

12.2008 - 7.2014

More Information

Projekt type:
Project funding number: 06OE353 (Thünen-Institut), 06OE353 (TUM)
Funding program: Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau und andere Formen nachhaltiger Landwirtschaft (BÖLN)
Project status: finished

Publications

hits: 23

  1. Wagner K, Brinkmann J, March S, Hinterstoißer P, Warnecke S, Schüler M, Paulsen HM (2018) Impact of daily grazing time on dairy cow welfare-results of the Welfare Quality® Protocol. Animals MDPI 8(1):1, DOI:10.3390/ani8010001
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 210 kb
  2. Warnecke S, Paulsen HM (2015) Berechnung des Klimawirkungspotentials der Milchkuhexkremente ökologisch und koventionell wirtschaftender Betriebe in Deutschland aus Stall, Melkstand, Lager und Weidegang. Thünen Rep 29:49-62
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 741 kb
  3. Paulsen HM, Warnecke S, Schmid H, Frank H, Brinkmann J, March S, Koopmann R (2015) Haltungsbedingungen, Tiergesundheits- und Tierwohlparameter und Medikamenteneinsatz in der Milchviehhaltung auf je zwei ökologischen und konventionellen Betrieben sowie Auswirkungen von Optimierungsansätzen zur Verbesserung der Situation der Tiere auf die Klimabilanz der Milcherzeugung. Thünen Rep 29:119-148
  4. Paulsen HM, Frank H, Hülsbergen KJ, Rahmann G, Schmid H, Warnecke S (2015) Klimagase und deren Minderung bei der Milchproduktion. In: Häring AM, Hörning B, Hoffmann-Bahnsen R, Luley H (eds) Beiträge zur 13. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau "Am Mut hängt der Erfolg: Rückblicke und Ausblicke auf die ökologische Landbewirtschaftung". pp 102-105
  5. Hülsbergen KJ, Schmid H, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G (2015) Klimawirkungen und Nachhaltigkeit der Landwirtschaft : Untersuchungen in einem Netzwerk der Pilotbetriebe. Lebendige Erde 16(1):33
  6. Warnecke S, Paulsen HM (2015) Unterschiedliche Fütterung: Treibhausgaslast der Milch von vier Milchviehbetrieben. In: Häring AM, Hörning B, Hoffmann-Bahnsen R, Luley H (eds) Beiträge zur 13. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau "Am Mut hängt der Erfolg: Rückblicke und Ausblicke auf die ökologische Landbewirtschaftung". pp 106-109
  7. Warnecke S, Schulz F, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G (2014) Differences in feeding practices on organic and conventional dairy farms - data from a farm network. Thünen Rep 20, Vol. 2:343-346
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 118 kb
  8. Warnecke S, Paulsen HM, Schulz F, Rahmann G (2014) Greenhouse gas emissions from enteric fermentation and manure on organic and conventional dairy farms - an analysis based on farm network data. Organic Agric 4(4):285-293, DOI:10.1007/s13165-014-0080-4
  9. Paulsen HM, Warnecke S, Schüler M (2014) Modell und Realität : Erfahrungen zur Berechnung von Treibhausgasemissionen aus der Milchviehhaltung auf Basis von Daten ökologischer und konventioneller Betriebe. Forschung : Themenheft 2/2014:44-49
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 109 kb
  10. Paulsen HM, Warnecke S, Rahmann G (2014) Options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from enteric fermentation and manure handling in dairy farming – An analysis based on farm network data. Thünen Rep 20, Vol. 2:441-444
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 176 kb
  11. Warnecke S, Schulz F, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G (2013) Berechnung emissionswirksamer Substanzen in Exkrementen der Milchkühe ökologischer und konventioneller Betriebe in Deutschland basierend auf den Futterrationen und den Futterinhaltsstoffen. Thünen Rep 8:207-227
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 1463 kb
  12. Schmid H, Blank B, Bokemeyer J, Braun M, Buchwald K-D, Christen O, Frank H, Höhne E, Hülsbergen KJ, Kassow A, Köpke U, Lind P, Maier H, Neuhoff D, Peter J, Plagge J, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G, Reents HJ, Rudolf H, et al (2013) Methodischer Ansatz. Thünen Rep 8:11-31
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 666 kb
  13. Paulsen HM, Schulz F, Warnecke S, Blank B, Schaub D, Rahmann G (2013) Treibhausgasemissionen aus Verdauung und Wirtschaftsdüngern - gibt es eindeutige Aussagen? In: Institut für ökologischen Landbau (ed) Klimawirkungen und Nachhaltigkeit ökologischer und konventioneller Pilotbetriebe in Deutschland : wissenschaftliche Tagung ; Thünen-Institut Braunschweig im Forum am Mittwoch, 27. Februar 2013. Braunschweig: Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, pp 23-27
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 32 kb
  14. Schaub D, Rösemann C, Frank H, Paulsen HM, Blank B, Hülsbergen KJ, Rahmann G (2013) Treibhausgasemissionen ökologischer und konventioneller Milchviehbetriebe - Berechnung ausgewählter Teilbereiche mit den Modellen REPRO und GAS-EM unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Fütterungsmodellierung. Thünen Rep 8:229-258
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 978 kb
  15. Schulz F, Warnecke S, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G (2013) Unterschiede der Fütterung ökologischer und konventioneller Betriebe und deren Einfluss auf die Methan-Emission aus der Verdauung von Milchkühen. Thünen Rep 8:189-205
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 599 kb
  16. Blank B, Schaub D, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G (2013) Vergleich von Leistungs- und Fütterungsparametern in ökologischen und konventionellen Milchviehbetrieben in Deutschland. Landbauforsch Appl Agric Forestry Res 63(1):21-28, DOI:10.3220/LBF_2013_21-28
    pdf document 298 kb
  17. Paulsen HM, Blank B, Schaub D, Aulrich K, Rahmann G (2013) Zusammensetzung, Lagerung und Ausbringung von Wirtschaftsdüngern ökologischer und konventioneller Milchviehbetriebe in Deutschland und die Bedeutung für die Treibhausgasemissionen. Landbauforsch Appl Agric Forestry Res 63(1):29-36, DOI:10.3220/LBF_2013_29-36
    pdf document 349 kb
  18. Schaub D, Paulsen HM, Rösemann C, Blank B, Rahmann G (2012) Emissions of greenhouse gases from dairy farms - a case study using the German agricultural emission model GAS-EM. Landbauforsch SH 362:22-25
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 857 kb
  19. Blank B, Schaub D, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G (2012) Herd parameters in organic and conventional dairy farms and their role in greenhouse gas emissions from milk production. Landbauforsch SH 362:270-273
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 898 kb
  20. Paulsen HM, Blank B, Schaub D, Rahmann G (2012) Klimawirkungen und Nachhaltigkeitsparameter in der Milchviehhaltung - Ergebnisse aus Herdenvergleichen ökologischer und konventioneller Betriebe. VDLUFA SchrR 68:737-744
  21. Kassow A, Blank B, Paulsen HM, Rahmann G, Aulrich K (2011) Analyse von Grundfutterqualitäten ökologischer und konventioneller Milchviehbetriebe im Rahmen des Projektes "Klimawirkungen und Nachhaltigkeit von Landbausystemen". In: Leithold G, Becker K, Brock C, Fischinger S, Spiegel A-K, Spory K, Wilbois KP, Williges U (eds) Beiträge zur 11. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau : Es geht ums Ganze: Forschen im Dialog von Wissenschaft und Praxis : Bd. 1, Boden - Pflanze - Umwelt, Lebensmittel und Produktqualität. Berlin: Köster, pp 109-110
  22. Blank B, Paulsen HM, Kassow A, Rahmann G, Aulrich K (2011) Zusammensetzung von Wirtschaftsdüngern ökologischer und konventioneller Milchviehbetriebe im Rahmen des Projekts Klimawirkungen und Nachhaltigkeit von Landbausystemen. In: Leithold G, Becker K, Brock C, Fischinger S, Spiegel A-K, Spory K, Wilbois KP, Williges U (eds) Beiträge zur 11. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau : Es geht ums Ganze: Forschen im Dialog von Wissenschaft und Praxis : Bd. 1, Boden - Pflanze - Umwelt, Lebensmittel und Produktqualität. Berlin: Köster, pp 199-202
  23. Kassow A, Blank B, Paulsen HM, Aulrich K, Rahmann G (2010) Studies on greenhouse gas emissions in organic and conventional dairy farms. Landbauforsch SH 335:65-76
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 254 kb