New international research project to make livestock farming more sustainable
Danish expertise is at the forefront of a new pan-European research project to develop sustainable systems for livestock farming in collaboration with local livestock farms.
Transforming Europe's food system to meet the EU Green Deal goal to become the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is no small task.
Globally, agriculture emits about one-third of all greenhouse gases, and livestock farming alone is responsible for approx. 70 per cent of the greenhouse gases emitted by agriculture in Europe.
A new research project with 28 partners from all over Europe is therefore aiming to make livestock farming more sustainable. The project is called Pathways, and it has received EUR 9 million or approx. DKK 67 million from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020.
"In the project, farmers, researchers and other experts will work together to develop methods and guidelines for how best to develop European livestock farming to make it significantly more sustainable in the future. It’s important for the success of the project that local farmers take ownership of the new methods, so that we can develop common scenarios for how livestock farms can realistically develop in a positive direction," says Professor Claus Grøn Sørensen from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who is in charge of the Aarhus University part of the project.
The collaboration between project partners, local farmers and other stakeholders will take place in 16 practice hubs, locally anchored throughout Europe. In the various hubs, efforts will be made to solve the specific challenges and issues that farms can face today in their efforts to increase their sustainability.
The solutions will be compiled in guidelines and standards that can help other farms to get started on a sustainable transition. The standards will include specific proposals for sustainability initiatives focusing on climate, animal husbandry, technology, profitability, consumer mentality, etc.
"We need to rethink the system design for animal husbandry at all levels in order to stay within planetary boundaries while also supporting the needs of a growing population. Pathways will support this transition by demonstrating best practice and delivering smart tools," say the overall coordinators of the project, Professor Harry Blokhuis and Dr. Laurence Smith from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU.
The Pathways project supports the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, the core of the Green Deal, by designing transition pathways that meet societal demands for resilient, safe and nutritious livestock-based foods, while at the same time reducing environmental impacts and promoting sustainability in the European livestock sector.
The project is being coordinated by SLU and it will run for five years. The project has a total of 28 partners from 12 countries, including universities, research institutes, NGOs, think tanks, SMEs, trade associations and multinational companies. In addition, a large number of local farms will be included in the project once the 16 practice hubs have been established.
The Danish partners in the project are Danish Crown, Arla, Seges and the Department of Agroecology and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Aarhus University.