During 2008, the SDDG pioneered the first carbon footprint measurement system of its kind in the dairy industry. This is the first agricultural carbon footprinting model to be certified by the Carbon Trust and to achieve compliance with PAS 2050 (a supply chain measurement specification established by Defra and BSI British Standards). It has the potential to reduce farmers' energy costs and also their carbon footprint by 10% a year.
The project involved an independent environmental consultant, funded by Sainsbury's, auditing each SDDG farm. The audits looked at every aspect of the farm and measured inputs such as electricity, feedstuffs, machinery and fuel use. From each audit a carbon footprint report was produced for individual farms, along with an environmental scorecard. The scorecard identifies areas for improvement and a detailed greenhouse gas emissions reduction programme. Each farmer is then given guidance on how to implement these.
Some of the reductions in energy and emissions have come from simple measures, such as harvesting rainwater for re-use. Other farmers have achieved higher yields per cow by using feed more efficiently, or managing their fertiliser and manure applications differently.
The project found that some of the highest yielding farms are not the most carbon intensive. Through the scheme we have demonstrated how more efficient farms can be better for the environment as well as being more successful businesses.
We strongly believe that the SDDG will help drive new efficiencies in the sector and could act as a benchmark for improving long-term sustainability in the dairy industry as a whole.
Sainsbury's has launched its Dairy Development Group in Northern Ireland in a move which will strengthen the partnership between the supermarket and the local milk sector. This group will consist of a dedicated pool of farmers producing milk specifically for Sainsbury's stores in Northern Ireland. Pictured at the launch is Andrew Nethercott, group commercial director Dale Farm, head of sustainability, agriculture and health at Sainsbury's Annie Graham, dairy farmer David Wilson from Newtownabbey and Emma Metcalf-King, senior buyer, milk and eggs for Sainsbury's.