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EU project will contribute to more resilient, sustainable milk production

20 July 2022
Aarhus University

Aarhus University is one of the partners in an EU project, R4D (Resilience for Dairy), aiming at contributing to the social, economic and environmental development of European milk production.

The R4D project, which is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, was launched in January 2021. During the three years in which the project is running, 18 organisations from 15 European countries – including Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University – cooperate on improving the sustainability and resilience of the European milk production.

In order to achieve this goal, the 18 partners in R4D have created a network enabling exchange of practical and scientific knowledge between European milk producers, researchers and other relevant stakeholders.

Three scientific areas are in focus

During the next three years, R4D will focus on three scientific areas to strengthen the dairy herds’ sustainability:

  1. Economic and social conditions
  2. Technical efficiency
  3. Environmentally friendly, animal welfare friendly and socially friendly production systems.

The project participants work together on improving the business and operational strategies for dairy herds and on stimulating positive interactions between agriculture and society. The project looks for the most efficient and innovative techniques for handling the challenges of improving animal welfare, increasing biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the environmental impact of milk production.

Customised solutions for milk producers

Furthermore, the project participants from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Slovenia and Spain will collaborate on trying different models and developing a number of solutions: from finding customised solutions for different farms to training sessions and e-learning webinars.

In each of the participating countries there will be a farm facilitator, a network for milk producers and a national cattle scientific network. The farm facilitator will put the milk producers and other stakeholders in the cattle sector into touch to improve the exchange of information and knowledge in the national cattle scientific network. Furthermore, the farm facilitators will ensure that suggested solutions will be available to milk producers.

In Denmark, Søren Østergaard from Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, is the farm facilitator: “Our role in the project is to ensure the Danish contribution for pointing out needs and finding solutions making EU’s milk production more sustainable and resilient. Being the Danish project participants, Professor Margit Bak Jensen and I will especially exchange knowledge on animal welfare and economy”.

A network for better understanding and knowledge exchange

The first phase of the project will create a network of resilient pilot herds and cattle organisations in Europe. This multi-actor approach gives us the opportunity to express the milk producers’ most critical needs. This will also result in a better understanding and bigger knowledge exchange, which will result in pointing out and communicating the most appropriate and efficient innovative practices, which will improve the dairy sector.

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