Climate change and greenhouse emissions in dairy

   Man milking cows    
Climate change and dairy
Australian dairy farms and emissions
Sources of greenhouse gas emissions on dairy farms
Australian Dairy Carbon Calculator

The Australian dairy industry is working toward a 30% reduction in emissions intensity by 2020. This video explains why it's important for Australian dairy farmers to be committed to this target...

Climate change and dairy (PDF, 751KB)

More efficient farms make more profit and produce less greenhouse gases.

Australian dairy farms and GHG emissions (PDF, 683KB)

Farms contribute to greenhouse gas emissions from a range of sources.

Greenhouse gases on dairy farms (PDF, 500KB)

The Australian Dairy Carbon Calculator is a tool used by farmers or farm advisers to calculate on-farm greenhouse gas emissions. By understanding where emissions are coming from, farmers can target efficiency gains on their farms and improve profits while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Dairy carbon calculator (PDF, 450KB)

Dairy Carbon Calculator 

Application of the Dairy Carbon Calculator

Learn how Shawn and Tanya Robbins (Boorcan, VIC) have used the Australian Dairy Carbon Calculator (formerly called DGAS) to identify opportunities for reducing emissions on-farm.

Climate adaptation - Dairy Businesses for Future Climates

Climate adaptation image one Climate adaptation image two  
Summary of DBFC national findings
National findings of the Dairying Businesses for Future Climates research project

This short video summarises the research outcomes of the Dairy Businesses for Future Climates (DBFC) project.

The Dairy Businesses for Future Climates (DBFC) research project was undertaken from 2013 – 16.  Funded by The Australian Government and Dairy Australia it involved farmers and researchers and explored how three dairy farm systems in Gippsland, South Australia and Tasmania might perform under predicted climate changes out to 2040 and how they could adapt to a changing climate.  

Effluent and compost


Effluent as fertiliser
Composting and greenhouse gas emissions

Good management of effluent is not only important for environmental reasons but also for farm profit.

Fert$mart effluent – effluent as a fertiliser (PDF, 854KB)

Making compost on-farm can be a cost effective source of fertiliser. This video looks at two dairy farmers who are using compost and discovers how they do it and what results they are getting.

Composting and GHG emissions (PDF, 561KB)

Feed efficiency

High quality feed
Forage crops for dairy
Pasture digestibility

Feeding dairy cows well not only means more milk in the vat but also reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

High quality feed wins (PDF, 775KB)

Forage crops can be a great feed source for dairy cows. In this video we meet a dairy farmer from Western Australia who is growing forage beet for his cows and getting great results.

Forage crops for Dairy (PDF, 661KB)

Growing quality rye grass pasture not only improves milk production but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Pasture digestibility (PDF, 541KB)

Animal management

     Calf nutrition  Monitoring and weighing heifers
Using genetics to reduce emissions
Taking care of cows
Calf nutrition
Monitoring and weighing heifers

The Australian Breeding Value for feed conversion means farmers can breed cows with better feed conversion traits. Meaning, more milk, less input costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Using genetics to reduce emissions (PDF, 724KB)


Keeping cows healthy is important for animal welfare, farm profitability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Taking care of cows (PDF, 495KB)

Learn how feeding fortified milk can be an efficient way to produce healthy well grown heifers.

Listen to John Meade (Cudgee, Vic) explain how he monitors and weighs heifers on his farm.

Nitrogen management

        Practical nitrogen use timing
High quality kikuyu pastures
Wet areas on dairy farms
Green seeker
Practical nitrogen use timing for summer/ winter grass system

Growing quality pasture 's not only important for producing more milk but also producing less greenhouse gases. In this video we discover the secrets to growing high quality kikuyu pasture.

High quality kikuyu pastures (PDF, 752KB)

Managing wet areas through drainage will have a positive effect on farm profits and will lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Drainage planning (PDF, 911KB)

Being able to measure the exact amount of nitrogen your plants need is a transformative technology for some farmers. Green seeker puts this technology into farmer's hands with a device that can give accurate plant nitrogen measurements.

Fert$mart nitrogen (PDF, 732KB)

Listen to Peter Beal, Pat Neal & James Neal (Oxley Island, NSW) discussion how they are using the fundamental messages of nitrogen use timing, source and rate to maximise their pasture production while minimising GHG emissions.

Heat stress

 Video: Keeping cows cool in the shade

Keeping cows cool

Cool cows produce more milk and less greenhouse gases. This video looks at three farmers and their different approaches to reducing heat stress in their cows.

Keeping cows cool (PDF, 581KB)


Irrigation and energy efficiency

     Reducing emissions and costs  Benefits of irrigation image
Variable speed drives
Variable rate irrigation
Reducing emissions and costs associated with moving water
Benefits of an irrigation system maintenance check

Using variable speed drive irrigation pumps can reduce power consumption by as much as 75%.

Variable speed drives (PDF, 680KB)

Variable rate irrigation is a technology that can have great benefits on some farms.

Planning for Variable Rate Emissions (PDF, 520KB)

Learn how Rex Tout (Loomberah, NSW) is reducing energy consumption and cost through improved efficiencies in pump system design, maintenance and operation.

Energy to power pressurized irrigation systems can be the most significant use of energy on dairy farms. See how a systems maintenance check can reduce GHG emissions on dairy farms.

 Optimising irrigation image  Improving irrigation image      
Optimising irrigation potential - the green drought
Improving irrigation efficiency

Listen to James Hill (researcher, TIA) explain the mechanics of a 'green drought' and how monitoring and evaluation can be used to optimise irrigation efficiency and reduce GHG emissions.

Energy to power pressurized irrigation systems can be the most significant use of energy on dairy farms. See how catch can testing can improve irrigation efficiency and consequently reduce GHG emissions on dairy farms.



Soil fertility mapping
Soil testing to optimise fertiliser application and pasture growth
Designing drainage
Hump and hollow drainage

Variable rate fertiliser spreading is a technology that allows farmers to target specific fertiliser rates to different paddocks. 

Variable rate fertiliser spreading (PDF, 421KB)

Understand soil fertility across the farm is the first step in developing a Fert$mart plan and optimising fertiliser application and pasture growth.

Know your soils (PDF, 914KB)

How to get your drainage design correct.

Drainage options for dairy farms (PDF, 1293KB)

Hump and hollow is a specific drainage technique used in certain areas.

Hump and hollow (PDF, 990KB)


Water logging costs production

With a better understanding of soil profiles farmers can make more informed decisions about irrigation and drainage.

Water logging costs production (PDF, 528KB)

Mole drainage

 Mole drainage machinery  Mole drainage    
Mole drainage case study
Mole drainage installation

Installing mole drains can be an effective way of removing excess water in high clay content soils. Reduced water logging boosts pasture productivity.

The importance of developing a whole farm drainage master plan before installing mole drains.

Economic effects of shelter belts

Shelter belts Direct seeding shelterbelts - tractor Locating and designing shelterbelts Planting and maintaing shelterbelts
Economic benefits of shelter belts in dairy
Direct Seeding Shelterbelts
Locating and designing shelterbelts
Planting and Maintaining Shelterbelts

Learn about the use and economic benefits of shelter belts on dairy farms from Adam Jenkins (UDV).

Direct seeding can be an efficient and cost effective method of establishing shelter belts on dairy farms.

Direct seeding shelterbelts (PDF, 206KB)

What to consider when locating shelterbelts on dairy farms.

Designing shelterbelts  (PDF, 410KB)

Ideas for successfully establishing and maintaining shelterbelts.

Preparation and planting of shelterbelts (PDF, 452KB)

Shelterbelts video still image        
Benefits of shelterbelts


Waste management

Reducing embedded emissions

Reducing embedded emissions through best practice waste management

Learn how Jason and Michelle Bake (Bonville, NSW) are reducing their farm contribution to pre-farm embedded and post farm GHG emissions via strategic waste management practices.