HEERLEN, COPENHAGEN – European dairy cooperative Arla Foods and Royal DSM announced details of a plan devised to reduce methane emissions on Arla’s dairy farms.

DSM’s methane-reducing feed additive, Bovaer, will be introduced into the diets of 10,000 dairy cows on more than 50 farms in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

Research through on-farm trials has shown that Bovaer can reduce methane emissions by about 30% with continued high levels of animal welfare, DSM shared. Per Arla Foods’ data, 40% of the cooperative’s total emissions come from their cows’ digestion of feed, which involves continuous burping, releasing methane.

In the months ahead, Arla Foods will work with its farmer owners to involve a number of its dairy farms in the pilot program. Farmers will mix Bovaer into their cows’ feed and Arla will collect milk samples for analysis, and compare it to milk from dairy cows on other farms where the additive isn’t being used. If the findings from this initial run match the cooperative’s expectations for the plan, Arla Foods will double the project to include 20,000 cows in 2023.

Even before implementing the pilot program, Arla Foods’ dairy farmer owners averaged a CO2e emission of 1.15 kg per kg of raw milk. The cooperative wants to accelerate reduction of greenhouse gas emissions this decade.

“Climate change requires urgent action, and we believe that dairy is part of the solution,” said Hanne Sondergaard, Arla Foods’ executive vice president and head of agriculture and sustainability. “The results from our initial trials with Bovaer at both a research facility and one of our Danish farms are very promising. Together with DSM, we are now gaining practical on-farm experience by applying the feed additive in one of its largest pilot programs to date, and one of Arla’s biggest climate projects overall, with 10,000 cows. This is a great example of innovative scientific solutions and actions we are taking to create a sustainable and resilient future for dairy, and I am excited to see how far this will take us.”

DSM’s research and development with Bovaer has been ongoing for more than 10 years, with the additive being tested in 14 countries. The company explained that Bovaer works by suppressing the enzyme that triggers methane production in a cow’s digestive system.

“Leaders of more than 100 countries recognize the urgency of cutting methane emissions as they pledged to make a difference at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, a few months ago,” said Mark van Nieuwland, vice president of Bovaer at DSM. “The recent IPCC report on the impact of climate change tells us there’s no time to lose when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming livestock farming will be key to this and forward-thinking companies like Arla Foods are already working hard on sustainable dairy. Through our scientific innovation and collaboration, we can help achieve a sizeable reduction in emissions by changing the feed that animals eat every day and in doing so, support the health of animals, people and planet.”