A Field Of Plants

Carbon: The Newest Cash Crop for Dairy Farmers?

How Truterra is positioned for leadership in the dairy sector by helping transform on-farm stewardship into farm-generated carbon credits

It’s not news that global companies are setting climate goals. In 2020, the U.S. dairy industry collectively established industrywide 2050 environmental that include achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) neutrality, and many companies, including Land O’Lakes have set more aggressive timelines to achieve substantial GHG emission reductions much sooner.
At Land O’Lakes and through partnership with Truterra, we can make a positive impact throughout the entire ag value chain. And, rooted in our farmer-owned mindset, that starts with supporting and enabling farmers to ensure sustainability and economically viable both now and in the future.
When you think of addressing greenhouse gas emissions on a dairy farm, the popular topic is addressing methane through concepts such as methane digestors or adjustments in feed to attempt to curb these emissions, but an opportunity lies within the production of the feed most dairy producers grow on their farms.
To break it down, think of a single gallon of milk, and the GHG associated with bringing that gallon from farm-to-table. Much of that lies in the production of the milk at the cow, but over 20 percent is associated with the next biggest segment- feed production.
Not only is this a large chunk that can be addressed with on-farm solutions, but farmers can take advantage or position their farms to take advantage of ecosystem service markets like carbon markets.
This is where Truterra, the sustainability business at Land O’Lakes steps in. Truterra is a resource and important partner for dairy farmers interested in improving their soil health on the fields where they grow crops for feed production.
Not only is Truterra a solutions provider with expertise in soil health, livestock and technology services, but as a business unit of Land O’Lakes, Truterra is well positioned to tap into its network and expertise in the dairy space. 
A recent example of this is the project between Land O’Lakes and Bel Brands, which was awarded the Outstanding Supply Chain Sustainability Award for its work with member farm Boadwine Dairy. This honored program was a 3-year pilot program to support the adoption of sustainable farming and animal feed production methods to improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By using the Truterra™ sustainability tool, Boadwine was able to benchmark, track and evaluate changes in Nutrient Utilization Efficiency (NUE), soil erosion, soil quality and greenhouse gas emissions over the course of three years. After just one year, the program yielded meaningful results including a carbon sink of 784 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per acre per year. This program is expected to expand and the success to date has shown that this is a scalable way to drive positive climate outcomes while supporting farmers and helping them mitigate risk of practice changes.