The environmental impact of production technologies and management decisions in food systems has become more important as the challenges of climate change increase and availability of natural resources decrease. There are a number of well known ‘green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ management practices that can reduce the undesirable environmental consequences of milk production including: optimizing dairy diets, wisely managing waste, adopting optimal cropping patterns and conservative field operations, improving energy efficiency of food production and generating energy on farms. The Green Cheese study is a group effort focused on identifying synergies that reduce Green-House Gas (GHG) emissions, the use of fossil fuels, and other environmental impacts of integrated dairy and bio-fuels production systems in Wisconsin (Figure 1). A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of these practices has been done by the Green Cheese Team at the University of Wisconsin to assess these objectives.
Figure 1: Life Cycle Assessment Boundaries for Cheese Production, from Cradle to Plant Gate.