Articles | Volume 27
07 Sep 2010
 | 07 Sep 2010

Water footprint analysis for the assessment of milk production in Brandenburg (Germany)

K. Drastig, A. Prochnow, S. Kraatz, H. Klauss, and M. Plöchl

Abstract. The working group "Adaptation to Climate Change" at the Leibniz-Institute for Agricultural Engineering Potsdam-Bornim (ATB) is introduced. This group calculates the water footprint for agricultural processes and farms, distinguished into green water footprint, blue water footprint, and dilution water footprint.

The green and blue water demand of a dairy farm plays a pivotal role in the regional water balance. Considering already existing and forthcoming climate change effects there is a need to determine the water cycle in the field and in housing for process chain optimisation for the adaptation to an expected increasing water scarcity. Resulting investments to boost water productivity and to improve water use efficiency in milk production are two pathways to adapt to climate change effects.

In this paper the calculation of blue water demand for dairy farming in Brandenburg (Germany) is presented. The water used for feeding, milk processing, and servicing of cows over the time period of ten years was assessed in our study. The preliminary results of the calculation of the direct blue water footprint shows a decreasing water demand in the dairy production from the year 1999 with 5.98×109 L/yr to a water demand of 5.00×109 L/yr in the year 2008 in Brandenburg because of decreasing animal numbers and an improved average milk yield per cow. Improved feeding practices and shifted breeding to greater-volume producing Holstein-Friesian cow allow the production of milk in a more water sustainable way. The mean blue water consumption for the production of 1 kg milk in the time period between 1999 to 2008 was 3.94±0.29 L.

The main part of the consumed water seems to stem from indirect used green water for the production of feed for the cows.