September 2017


Resolving scale discrepancies in evaluation of sustainable intensification pathways for dairy and beef farms

RDF-funded workshop

Concept Conference Centre, John Bright Street, Birmingham
Tuesday 26 September 2017, 09:30–16:30
Dr Dave Styles
More information:
Click here to register

A workshop funded by the NRN-LCEE Research Development Fund to promote awareness, and stimulate resolution, of disagreements between GHG accounting at farm, national & international scales when assessing sustainable intensification measures for dairy and beef farms in contrasting locations.

A position paper will be developed during and after the workshop, to be published in an international, peer-reviewed journal.

26th September 2017, 09:30 to 16:30

Concept Conference Centre, John Bright Street, Birmingham

Keynote speakers include:

Tom Misselbrook (Rothamsted Research); Theun Wellinger (Wageningen University & Research); Claudia Arndt (CATIE, Costa Rica); Jon Moorby (IBERS, Aberystwyth).

Participants will include: academic, industry and policy experts on cattle production systems & GHG accounting.


There is a gathering imperative towards measuring and promoting “sustainable intensification” of agricultural production, including through use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to benchmark farm-level efficiency and encourage the uptake of “win-win” mitigation options that improve profitability whilst reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity (carbon footprint) of milk and meat products.

Recent findings from the NRN-LCEE CLEANER COWS Cluster indicate that well-established animal-level efficiencies arising from dairy farm intensification may be linked with important indirect GHG sources and sinks that are not detected by KPIs and farm carbon calculators. Important indirect effects that may not be detected by farm level indicators include:

  • Expansion of cropland to provide additional concentrate feed
  • Sparing of grassland for other uses, including beef production, forestry, fallow, with potential secondary consequences for animal and land use emissions elsewhere via e.g. substitution of beef production 
  • Reductions in dairy-beef output from culled milking cows and calves exported to the beef sector

The above effects may arise regionally or internationally via trade in animal feed and beef commodities, and are highly sensitive to: characteristics of farms exiting from, or expanding within, the dairy sector; use of spared grassland; origin of marginal beef production affected by aforementioned changes. Failing to account for these effects could lead to the development of inappropriate strategies intended to operationalise “sustainable intensification” and mitigate GHG emissions.

This workshop aims to advance our understanding of the implications of these indirect effects on the wider efficacy of GHG mitigation strategies, with reference to case studies from a selection of countries with contrasting dairy systems, including:

  • Costa Rica
  • England & Wales
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands

Particular attention will be paid to dairy-beef sector linkages that appear critical to determine the wider GHG mitigation efficacy of measures that are often promoted from the perspective of single products, individual farms or single sectors.

Provisional draft Agenda





Registration & tea/coffee


Ice-breaker exercise

  • Elevator pitch from each attending organisation on their interest in GHG emission accounting


Inventory methods

  • Presentation 1: UK GHG emission inventory for dairy & beef sectors (Tom Misselbrook, Rothamsted Research) (20 mins & discussion)


Expanding farm carbon footprints to account for indirect effects of UK dairy intensification

  • Presentation 2: Modelling GHG implications of dairy intensification (Dave Styles, Bangor University) (10 mins)
  • Presentation 3: Mitigation by fewer lactations? (Jon Moorby, Aberystwyth University) (10 mins)
  • Kick-off discussion on limitations of inventories and carbon calculators to inform effective GHG mitigation strategies


Case study 1: Netherlands dairy intensification



  • Presentation 4: Dairy intensification trends in the Netherlands (Theun Vellinga, Wageningen University & Research) (20 mins)
  • Group work: Mind mapping gaps & scale discrepancies in GHG accounting based on industry key performance indicators (KPIs), carbon calculators & GHG inventories




Case study 2: Ireland dairy intensification

  • Presentation 5: Dairy intensification trends in Ireland (tbc, Teagasc) (20 mins & discussion)


Case study 3: Costa Rica dairy intensification

  • Presentation 6: Dairy intensification trends in Costa Rica (Claudia Arndt, CATIE) (20 mins & discussion)


Group work relating to case studies 3 & 4

  • Group work: Mind mapping gaps & scale discrepancies in GHG accounting based on industry KPIs, carbon calculators & GHG inventories


Tea/coffee break


Plan of action for position paper

  • Summary of key messages for farmers, policy makers and academics
  • Nomination of theme leads, identification of target journal


Summary and close