One step closer to carbon-neutral milk: Valio develops first grass seed mix that improves carbon-binding

Agriculture plays an important role in mitigating climate change, as using the correct farming methods can turn fields into significant carbon sinks. Valio, in reaching for carbon-neutral milk production, has developed the first grass seed mixes to improve carbon binding, suited for grass cultivation throughout Finland. The Valio CARBO® grass seed mix is also prolific, resistant, and improves biodiversity.

Valio’s primary production experts have developed the first grass mixes for growing cattle feed grass that has carbon-binding properties. All the while, they are also one of the concrete farming actions towards Valio’s future goal: carbon-neutral milk. The CARBO® grass seed mix gains its carbon binding capability from its deep-rooted, prolific nature as well as from its good nitrogen binding ability. Its multi-species mix tolerates Finland’s highly varied conditions and is suitable for use everywhere in the country.

“Overly one-sided farming practices weaken field conditions and their ability to bind carbon. Valio aims for carbon-neutral milk, and that is why we and the Baltic Sea Action Group are starting carbon farming courses tailored for Valio dairy farmers. This is the reason we started to develop a new multi-species grass mix suitable for all of Finland, for which we wanted carbon binding properties. Grass that’s being farmed for feed must also be tasty for the cows, nutritionally appropriate and tolerant of Finland’s highly varied conditions,” says Valio’s development manager Laura Nyholm, who was involved in the development process.

Its five plant species – two different timothy plants, white clover, red clover, reed fescue and meadow fescue – give the Valio CARBO® grass seed mix its special properties. Each grass species has its own task in the mix. This multi-species approach will also enrich the fields’ biodiversity.

“Photosynthesis binds carbon into the soil, from where, depending on the soil’s condition, either returns to the circulation quickly, or is stored in the soil in permanent forms. The more grass – photosynthesising leaf mass – grows on the soil, and the more extensive their underground roots, the more the grass binds carbon. Deep roots also improve winter resistance as well as resistance to e.g. droughts. The clovers attract pollinators and bind nitrogen, and the white clover covers the fail patches in the growth, improves longevity and prevents weeds from growing. Reed fescue has long roots, and meadow fescue’s recovery ability is very good.  The timothy provide not only flavour but also strength, they are prolific and nutritious,” says Laura Nyholm.

There are many dairy farmers who are considering the spring’s sowing and the grass species. Valio CARBO® is a long-duration, deep-rooted grass silage seed mix that is tasty and nutritious for cattle. Valio CARBO® grass silage seeds, packaged by Finnish Tilasiemen, are available at Valma Stores throughout Finland. We currently provide a Valio CARBO® grass mix and an over-seeding mix. It is Valio’s goal to keep developing grass mixes for different growth areas and specific ones for different soil types.

Our goal is to monitor and measure how well the CARBO® grass seed mixes bind carbon on the farm level. Additionally, Valio is undergoing its own study on carbon sequestration with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Natural Resources Institute Finland.

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