Innovative techniques and practices



EuroDairy is all about innovation, and demonstrating best practice in dairy farming. “Innovation” can be described as a new idea, which is successful when put into practice and widely adopted. EuroDairy interprets innovation in a broad context – it may be technological, but also non-technological, organisational or social. Innovation can be based on new, but also on traditional practices applied in a different geographical area or environmental context. The new idea can be a new product, practice, service, production process or simply a new way of organising things to advantage.



Business model –  Dairy cow farming in Parmigiano Reggiano cheese area
Progressive dairy farmers look to how they can develop their businesses, to meet new challenges or opportunities. Sometimes this is to develop new products, or to take advantage of the way in which they produce which could appeal to the consumer. Click here  to see how one family business in Reggio Emelia is adopting innovative marketing approaches to connect with their customers.

Lean management – Dairy lean group in North-West England
‘Lean management’ is an approach typically used to streamline processes in other industries – manufacturing, distribution or the service sector. But can similar approaches be used in dairy farming to remove unnecessary cost and add value. Across Europe groups of farmers and advisors are exploring ‘lean management’ as a tool to increase efficiency and profitability. Click here to join a webinar from Belgium on the principles behind the application of lean management to dairy farming. Or follow this link to hear about one dairy farmers philosophy on attention to detail, while still paying attention to leadership of his staff and business. Look out for further updates from a new Operational Group of farmers, centred at Reaseheath College in the UK, also focussing on developing lean management approaches.

Business model – Overcome constraints Tom Rawson
Adapted or new business models are required to increase long-term resilience, or to overcome constraints such as access to land and capital. View here how EuroDairy pilot farmer, Tom Rawson, has been developing an innovative business structure, designed to deliver profitability, resilience and the potential for future expansion.


Alternative housing systems – Free walk barns and compost bedded pack farms across Europe
To improve cow comfort and welfare, farmers and researchers are experimenting with alternative management systems for dairy cattle indoors. So called ‘free walk’ systems dispense with cubicles, allow greater floor space for lying and roaming, and investigates a range of bedding materials. The bedding used is often organic in nature, for example, compost pack beds. Aspects being examined include cow comfort, cleanliness and welfare, bed management techniques, environmental impact, milk quality, nutrient use efficiency and economic performance. Follow the link to projects involving farmers in Italy  and the Netherlands (see here). EuroDairy partner, AHDB Dairy, asked dairy farmers to think ‘blue sky’ on what innovations would enhance consumer perceptions of future dairy cattle housing systems. AHDB then got an artist to capture this free-thinking graphically. This is the result (link).  EuroDairy is also able to draw experience from further afield. Click here to view information on the use of compost beds in the US. Look out for all kinds of other novelties at our accelerator page on Animal care:


Nutriënt cycling – ANCA tool
Efficient nutrient cycling is important,  to maximise efficiency, lower input costs and reduce impacts on the environment. Across Europe, dairy farmers are having to pay special attention to nitrogen and phosphorus use on their farms. There are often stringent limits to permitted use, which drive management practices and long term objectives for the business. ANCA (Annual nutrient cycle assessment) is a tool being rolled out for use by Dutch farmers. It captures nitrogen and phosphorous balance. By assessing environmental performance, generic legislation can be replaced by farm-specific regulations, which gives efficient farmers more entrepreneurial freedom. Information from all dairy farms in the Netherlands is being collated to give an aggregate overview of industry performance, to use in national discussions with regulators.

Feed efficiency – Compact feeding
In most dairy systems, feed represents the largest variable cost. Maximising the intake of high quality feed is key to maintain health and productivity, particularly in early lactation. ‘Compact feeding’ is a concept developed in first in Denmark, and now being triad by farmers elsewhere in Europe. For further information follow the link here  to a EuroDairy webinar on the technique.


Measurement tools – Biological effluent purification systems in Galicia Spain
EuroDairy partners and pilot farmers are involved in a number of projects and initiatives to safeguard and enhance nature value on dairy farms, and demonstrate how profitable dairy farming can be combined with care for the environment. These include proactive techniques to protect water quality, encourage pollinators and natural predators, and improve to landscape features to support biodiversity. Look out for updates from our Galician partners on developments on the ecological farm – Casa Grande de Xanceda, producing artisan organic yogurts. Forty EuroDairy pilot farms will have biodiversity audits undertaken, using an innovative new tool (BIOTEX) to assess biodiversity status and to identify techniques being implemented to improve environmental performance. In this webinar, dairy environmental expert Sophie Bertrand, describes the approach she has taken to assess biodiversity on EuroDairy Pilot Farms and some emerging results.

These are just a sample of innovative approaches and techniques emerging from the EuroDairy network, which are being implemented and refined by EuroDairy partners and pilot farmers.  Explore hot topics and new contacts at our very own GIS-map of the EuroDairy network: