Understanding whole farm nutrient balance said to be key to emission reduction

© istock/ipopba

UK feed advisers are increasing their knowledge around how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on farms.

The representative feed trade body, the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC), has recently announced the launch of its latest training module for the Feed Adviser Register (FAR). 

This phase will highlight practical ways that feed advisers can help to reduce emissions on farms - it builds on information gained in previous training modules, said Inge Verwoerd, technical manager, feed and FAR, at AIC.  

“Module 3 doesn’t just focus on feeding efficiency, which was covered in modules 1 and 2. Feeding efficiency is an important aspect for feed advisers and efficient feeding can support emission reduction. However, Module 3 considers the whole farm nutrient balance which includes feeding but also manure use efficiency, soil nutrient content, efficient use of housing, understanding of environmental policy and effective nutrient measuring,” she said.

The AIC has made further background reading and useful links and tools available to give feed advisers additional resources to support their farmer customers, added Verwoerd.

In terms of how the trade group can show this training is having any kind of impact, she told us: “The government, industry and stakeholders are becoming more aware of the impact FAR training is having on farm. “Seven FAR case studies in pig, poultry and ruminants describe how feed advisers have made a measurable impact on farms.”

Furthermore, the AIC is working with the Defra statistics team to qualify the link between continuing professional development (CPD) of professional advisers and positive changes in farming practice, said Verwoerd.

Using a robust and representative GB survey, we hope to be able to provide a better handle of the evidence of the actual impact of the value of FAR advice on farm. To progress from each module, feed advisers must successfully complete an ‘i-validation’ assessment to show their understanding of the training material they have completed.” 

FAR case study

In one case study, FAR feed advisor, Hefin Richards, founder of consultancy, Profeed Nutrition, gave an example of how his advice reportedly made a difference.

In a 250 dairy cow herd, he said he recommended certain changes that brought about significant improvements in the herd performance. He saw a hike in yearly milk yields up from 8500 to 10500 liters; increased fertility as well as major improvements in transition cow health and better harvesting and utilization of forage.

His advice focused on “improving forage quality during harvest and storage/feedout.”

Richards said he modified the diet formulation to optimize rumen health and efficiency, and promoted better dry cow management and nutrition including the introduction of a heat detection system. He said he also introduced better grassland species and fodder beet into the rotation to improve output from farm-grown feeds. “Increased feed efficiency and overall performance will also have had a positive impact on greenhouse gas emissions from the herd.”

The Feed Adviser Register (FAR) was launched in 2013 by the UK feed industry in response to UK government’s commitment to reducing emissions from livestock along with the feed industry’s desire to recognize the professionalism of those giving advice on livestock nutrition, said Verwoerd

“Operating costs are met through annual subscriptions,” she added.

The AIC said FAR provides for two classes of membership:

  • Full members are those who can demonstrate their competence through professional qualification and practical experience; 
  • Development membership is for those relatively new to the feed industry who will undergo further training and work experience. 

All members agree to work to a professional code. "The industry has fully supported the concept of FAR and membership now exceeds 1,100," she said. 

 

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