Dairy Farming: a Climate Smart Perspective
Authors: Pampi Paul, Mukesh Kumar and Dr. B.S.Meena

IPCC,2007 revealed that Agriculture contributes about 13.5% of global emission and in case of India INCCA, 2007 reported that agriculture contributes 18 percent of the total GHG emission. Further FAO, 2006 revealed that the agriculture animal sector is responsible for approximately 18 percent or nearly one-fifth of human induced GHGs emissions. In the present time it is a crucial issue of concern to sustain the farming in view of changing climate scenario. Agriculture which is the backbone of Indian economy is an imperative source of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission which is an important reason of global warming. Data show that agriculture is directly responsible for the release of 5100–6100 megatonnes (Mt) carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-e) a year that is roughly the same as the world’s transport sector and it contributes a disproportionate amount of two high-impact gases, nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). Agricultural practices are responsible for approximately 47 percent of human-generated methane emissions and 58 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. Nevertheless, there are reasons to be optimistic. In this perspective, a range of practices which come under the heading of ‘climate-smart agriculture (CSA)’ could increase food production, help farmers to become more resilient to climate change and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. It has been already found that, greater attention is being paid to climate issues and agriculture at national levels.

Climate smart dairy farming practices helps the world in keeping aim to meet out future demand of milk requirements without further increase in emissions. In the scenario of climatic change, adaptation is the first priority; this may involve the use of improved breed of dairy animals which have the ability to cope up with high temperatures, drier conditions etc. A wide range of measures are required to reduce the livestock sectors’ climate-change footprint. These include improving production and feed systems, developing new breeds of ruminants which produce less methane, introducing methods of manure management which reduce emissions, and integrating livestock with crops in order to reduce waste and improve soil fertility. Better grazing management could also do much to improve animal nutrition and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a need to consider changing feeding regimes and improving pasture management. Adaptation to short term climate variability and long term climate change also involves better risk management for example through insurance schemes and providing farmers with access to better weather forecasts.

The smallholder farming systems in India are characterized by low or fragmented land holding and livestock productivity due to unreliable, inadequate and troubled rainfall pattern, infertile soils, poor agronomic practices, undeveloped marketing channels etc. Climate-smart dairy farming has the potential to provide a triple win of increasing productivity, improving resilience and mitigating climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. Many practices exist, which can meet multiple demands and needs of livelihoods and agro-ecological systems whilst also contributing to an overall improved greenhouse gas balance in the dairy sector.

Other than these all improved manure management practice also allows to reduce the loss of nutrients through vaporization and mainly helps in reduction of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. But main challenge of climate smart dairy farming remains in its implementation especially in case of small holder dairy farmers. Other major challenges in the area are the existing poor land management practices, knowledge and information gaps and missing training opportunities on good dairy farming practices as well lack of access to necessary inputs, tools, equipments and credit facilities. All kind of climate smart dairy farming practices are not suitable for every region as it largely depends on various contexts. However for further, climate smart dairy farming practices needs to be put into practice with paid attention so that in this changing climate scenario also dairy farming can sustain with ensured food security.


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About Author / Additional Info:
I am a PhD scholar in Dairy Extension Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001 Haryana (India)..