Main research question
The goal of this project is the successful implementation of effective mitigation measures for greenhouse gas emissions in European and Flemish dairy farming. In Flanders, the Climate Policy Plan 2021-2030 (2018) contains commitments to reduce the climate impact of the agriculture and horticulture sector. In doing so, it certainly counts on individual farms as well. If dairy farmers in Europe want to take the most efficient measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, they will need, among others: 1. Reliable up-to-date and region-specific information on various possible mitigating measures and their performance in reality. 2. A system to monitor the climate in dairy farms so that emission levels can be recorded under widely varying conditions. Both needs are being addressed in the MilKey research project. The goal is the successful implementation of effective mitigating measures for greenhouse gas emissions in European and Flemish dairy farming. In Flanders, the climate policy plan 2021-2030 (2018) contains commitments to reduce the climate impact of the agriculture and horticulture sector. In doing so, it certainly also counts on the individual farms. MilKey is an IWT LA trajectory within the framework of the 2018 Joint Call of 3 H2020 ERA-NETs (FACCE ERA-GAS, ERA-NET SusAn, ICT-AGRI 2).
Two main aspects are being developed: dissemination and technique. The first aspect, coordinated by the international partners, aims at making region-specific information available to Flemish and European dairy farmers via an online information platform, more specifically on the implementation of mitigating measures for greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to general information, there will also be calculation tools to calculate the impact of the measures. In the technical part coordinated by ILVO, we are developing a real-time monitoring system for the barn climate, which is at least able to generate warnings of sub-optimal climate conditions via a web-based tool, but which ideally can fully automatically control the indoor climate. The parameters are temperature and relative humidity and wind speed, but also gas concentrations of e.g. CO2, ammonia and also methane. We tested the platform in Flanders and are implementing it in different practical companies in the partner countries.
The MILKey-project is now finished. It served as a first pilot study for the stakeholders on the use of low-cost sensors for monitoring the barn climate and emissions. It catalyzed further developments for emission measurements in dairy barns, and facilitated a variety of collaborations. Although the technology for determining emissions is deemed not ready for large-scale deployment, we were able to provide the partner companies with useful input for optimizing their products. ILVO was able to start several follow-up projects in this research area. The tested sensors are deemed suitable for monitoring barn climate. The developed OTICE tool serves to provide insights for dairy farmers in a user-friendly and concise way. The knowledge on the development of this tool will be applied in follow-up research.