Dairy farms control an important share of the agricultural area of Northern Italy. Zero grazing, large maize-cropped areas, high stocking densities, and high milk production make them intensive and prone to impact the environment. Currently, few published studies have proposed indicator sets able to describe the entire dairy farm system and their internal components. This work had four aims: i) to propose a list of agro-environmental indicators to assess dairy farms; ii) to understand which indicators classify farms best; iii) to evaluate the dairy farms based on the proposed indicator list; iv) to link farmer decisions to the consequent environmental pressures. Forty agro-environmental indicators selected for this study are described. Northern Italy dairy systems were analysed considering both farmer decision indicators (farm management) and the resulting pressure indicators that demonstrate environmental stress on the entire farming system, and its components: cropping system, livestock system, and milk production. The correlations among single indicators identified redundant indicators. Principal Components Analysis distinguished which indicators provided meaningful information about each pressure indicator group. Analysis of the communalities and the correlations among indicators identified those that best represented farm variability: Farm Gate N Balance, Greenhouse Gas Emission, and Net Energy of the farm system; Net Energy and Gross P Balance of the cropping system component; Energy Use Efficiency and Purchased Feed N Input of the livestock system component; N Eco-Efficiency of the milk production component. Farm evaluation, based on the complete list of selected indicators demonstrated organic farming resulted in uniformly high values, while farms with low milk-producing herds resulted in uniformly low values. Yet on other farms, the environmental quality varied greatly when different groups of pressure indicators were considered, which highlighted the importance of expanding environmental analysis to effects within the farm. Statistical analysis demonstrated positive correlations between all farmer decision and pressure group indicators. Consumption of mineral fertiliser and pesticide negatively influenced the cropping system. Furthermore, stocking rate was found to correlate positively with the milk production component and negatively with the farm system. This study provides baseline references for ex ante policy evaluation, and monitoring tools for analysis both in itinere and ex post environment policy implementation.

Assessing agro-environmental performance of dairy farms in northwest Italy based on aggregated results from indicators.

GAUDINO, Stefano;GOIA, IRENE;GRIGNANI, Carlo;MONACO, Stefano;SACCO, Dario
2014

Abstract

Dairy farms control an important share of the agricultural area of Northern Italy. Zero grazing, large maize-cropped areas, high stocking densities, and high milk production make them intensive and prone to impact the environment. Currently, few published studies have proposed indicator sets able to describe the entire dairy farm system and their internal components. This work had four aims: i) to propose a list of agro-environmental indicators to assess dairy farms; ii) to understand which indicators classify farms best; iii) to evaluate the dairy farms based on the proposed indicator list; iv) to link farmer decisions to the consequent environmental pressures. Forty agro-environmental indicators selected for this study are described. Northern Italy dairy systems were analysed considering both farmer decision indicators (farm management) and the resulting pressure indicators that demonstrate environmental stress on the entire farming system, and its components: cropping system, livestock system, and milk production. The correlations among single indicators identified redundant indicators. Principal Components Analysis distinguished which indicators provided meaningful information about each pressure indicator group. Analysis of the communalities and the correlations among indicators identified those that best represented farm variability: Farm Gate N Balance, Greenhouse Gas Emission, and Net Energy of the farm system; Net Energy and Gross P Balance of the cropping system component; Energy Use Efficiency and Purchased Feed N Input of the livestock system component; N Eco-Efficiency of the milk production component. Farm evaluation, based on the complete list of selected indicators demonstrated organic farming resulted in uniformly high values, while farms with low milk-producing herds resulted in uniformly low values. Yet on other farms, the environmental quality varied greatly when different groups of pressure indicators were considered, which highlighted the importance of expanding environmental analysis to effects within the farm. Statistical analysis demonstrated positive correlations between all farmer decision and pressure group indicators. Consumption of mineral fertiliser and pesticide negatively influenced the cropping system. Furthermore, stocking rate was found to correlate positively with the milk production component and negatively with the farm system. This study provides baseline references for ex ante policy evaluation, and monitoring tools for analysis both in itinere and ex post environment policy implementation.
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http://www.sciencedirect.com/
S. Gaudino; I. Goia; C. Grignani; S. Monaco; D. Sacco
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/144455
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