Best practice production to reduce the water footprint of dairy milk

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This study evaluated the impact of diet as a mitigation action to improve the water efficiency of lactating cows. An intensive pasture dairy system was considered to calculate direct and indirect water use. Group 1 was fed with a diet containing 20% crude protein content. The crude protein content of Group 2 was adjusted according to milk production, ranging from 23% to 14.5%. The total water footprints had a value of 502.4 L kg-1 fat protein corrected milk for Group 1 and 451.2 L kg-1 fat protein corrected milk for Group 2. The diet with the adjusted protein provided a reduction of 10% in the footprint value. The green water footprint was the most representative of consumption in the total value of the water footprint, 86.4% and 85.5% for Groups 1 and 2, respectively. The animals in Group 1 had a mean total drinking water consumption of 83.3 L animal-1 day-1 and those of Group 2, 80.4 L animal-1 day-1. This study demonstrated that high crude protein content in the diet provided a greater water footprint, therefore lower water efficiency. The proposed nutritional practice proved viable as a water-mitigating action, making the ratio of liters of water per liter of milk more advantageous. The results of this study could be considered a validation of a nutritional mitigation practice to improve water efficiency and could be used as best management for the dairy supply chain.

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Palhares, J. C. P., Novelli, T. I., & Morelli, M. (2020). Best practice production to reduce the water footprint of dairy milk. Revista Ambiente e Agua, 15(1).

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