Low-input dairy farming in Europe Exploring a context-specific notion

J. Bijttebier*, J. Hamerlinck, S. Moakes, N. Scollan, J. Van Meensel, L. Lauwers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Frequently acknowledged as coming forward to environmental issues by reducing external input use, low input (LI) dairy farming is gaining attention. The absence of a clearly delineated description of LI dairying, however, hampers identification and analysis of these farming systems. This paper aims at empirically examining, EU wide, the farm structure, production intensity and productivity of LI with respect to their high input (HI) conventional counterpart and to organic dairying (ORG). A pragmatic quartiles-based categorization of farms from the Farm Accountancy Data Network of 20 important EU dairy countries, with the value of external input costs per grazing livestock unit (GLU) is used as prior discriminating indicator between LI and HI. LI dairy farms are smaller than HI dairy farms, in particular when farm size is expressed as total farm capital. Other variables that differentiate between LI and HI in most countries are number of dairy cows per GLU and area of forage and grassland on total agricultural area. Partial productivities in HI farms exceed those in LI farms, most apparent is milk production per cow. Differentiation of forage production between LI and HI is less uniform throughout Europe. A pairwise matching of differentiation profiles between countries indicates that differentiation between LI and HI is country specific. A similar diversity in country-specific differentiation between ORG and LI farming is found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume156
Early online date06 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Dairy
  • Europe
  • Low input
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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    Bijttebier, J., Hamerlinck, J., Moakes, S., Scollan, N., Van Meensel, J., & Lauwers, L. (2017). Low-input dairy farming in Europe Exploring a context-specific notion. Agricultural Systems, 156, 43-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2017.05.016