Dairy Farm Emissions

The continued release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is exacerbating climate change. Global and domestic efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are ramping up, as more economies move quickly towards a low-carbon future.

At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions represent an inefficiency in dairy systems. The loss of methane and nitrous oxide gases into the atmosphere means energy and nitrogen that could be directed towards production are being lost. Some level of emissions is expected, but there are many opportunities within a typical dairy system to reduce greenhouse gases and achieve efficiency and profitability gains.

Although the carbon footprint of Australian dairying is one of the lowest in the world, there is still scope to improve efficiency. The Australian dairy industry has made a commitment to minimise its environmental footprint. This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2015 levels. Emissions intensity in 2023 remains close to the baseline, so there is more work to be done to meet the target.

The first step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions is understanding the sources of farm emissions and then identifying the most effective options for reducing them. If you already use DairyBase to manage your farm productivity, you can simply answer a few questions to get your emissions report. If you do not use DairyBase, you can calculate your emissions using the downloadable Australian Dairy Carbon Calculator and supporting resources.

Australian dairy farm emissions

Australian dairy farms have generated the following emissions in 2023:

  • Enteric methane 58%
  • Waste methane 10%
  • N2O direct voided onto pasture 4%
  • N2O manure spread incl direct 3%
  • N2ON fert direct 4%
  • Electricity 6%
  • Diesel 2%
  • Concentrates 8%
  • Fodder 2%
  • Fertiliser 3%

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