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New Model Measures Danish Agricultural Efficiency

05 March 2015

DENMARK - Scientists from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University have drawn up a robust model that can put actual figures on the efficiency of the country's agricultural production and use of resources. The model uses readily-accessible data.

The Danish agricultural production is constantly getting better at utilising the resources for the production of meat, milk and cereals. This is what new figures from DCA – Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture show us.

The results are based on a new method to quantify the development of production and resource efficiency using publicly available data.

There are figures available for the use of resources in agriculture as a whole but not for the individual lines of production. This makes it difficult to decide where to prioritise new initiatives in connection with, for example, the recommendations by the Commission on Nature and Agriculture and the government's policy for trade and growth in the food sector.

The AgriFish Agency therefore asked DCA – Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture to evaluate the possibilities of using generally available data to describe the resource efficiency and its evolution for selected central parts of agricultural production, i.e. the production of milk, pigs and cereals.

The method used to describe the development and efficiency of these selected areas has been detailed in a report published by DCA in February 2015. The report also shows the course of the development for the period 1990-2012.

Resources are used more efficiently

The results show that for the use of resources are moving in the right direction. Grain yield measured in net energy per hectare has been fairly constant over the period, but there has been a tendency for the production of protein per m2 to decline.

The production of meat per sow has increased by 35 per cent from 1990 to 2012. At the same time feed consumption in pig production has decreased by six per cent and consumption of protein has fallen by 22 per cent over the same period. A combination of a more efficient utilisation of feed and increased yield per unit area used for protein crops means that the area used to produce one kilo of pork has fallen from 6.8 m2 in 1990 to 5.6 m2 in 2012.

Milk production shows the same tendency of a more efficient use of resources. Milk production per cow-year has risen 40 per cent from 1990 to 2012. If you factor in meat production, which has not changed, to the concept of animal yield, production has increased from 8525 kg per cow-year in 1990 to 10.694 kg in 2012. Where in 1990 the size of the area of used to produce one kg of animal product from dairy farming was 1.23 m2, by 2012 this had been reduced to only 1.08 m2.

Further Reading

You can view the full report (in Danish) by clicking here.

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