Summer and insects – grazing promotes biodiversity
Dairy farms try to preserve biodiversity in many ways, one of which is to release their herds to the range. Valio encourages all of its dairy farms to let their herds graze to the extent possible.
A grazing herd promotes biodiversity in an agricultural environment. Grazing animals attract insects just by being there. Their manure attracts dung beetles, which attract other insects and insectivores, especially birds. Pollinating food crops grow in the pastures, and the pasture fringes provide cover and nesting for many species. Grazing is, therefore, good both for the animals and the environment.
Grass production plays significant role in preserving biodiversity
The grass that dairy farmers grow is a mix of a variety of plants, which in part promotes biodiversity. At the same time, it reduces the harvest risk, as there will always be a plant that succeeds even in a poorer harvest. Valio’s freshly-launched Carbo grass mix, developed especially to bind carbon, includes six different plant varietals.
Climate change will cause an increase in extreme weather conditions, because of which it makes sense to grow a variety of feed plants to yield a harvest even in dry and wet seasons. For instance, growing clover and other nitrogen-binding plants as feed promotes biodiversity: they reduce the need for artificial fertilizer, as the plants can bind the nitrogen in air on their own. It’s also important to take care of our soil – what happens underground has a direct effect on how well crops succeed on the surface.
Valio and the Rural Women’s Advisory Organisation have a common program to study biodiversity at Valio dairy farms. This dairy farm biodiversity survey studies, with the farmer, the types of species and valuable nature sites a farm has. At the same time, we try to figure out ways to improve biodiversity at the farm. Measures that improve biodiversity can be, for instance, protection from invasive species, diversifying the species in the protective zones, or restoring a traditional biotype.
“An interest in biodiversity has increased among both farmers and the rest of the nation. This rising interest should certainly lead to even better measures,” says Leena Lahdenvesi-Korhonen, Development Director for the Rural Women’s Advisory Organisation.