Denmark serves as a testbed for exploring green farming solutions and generally improving agriculture and its impact on both nature and climate
Denmark has been a forerunner in the development of new tools and techniques for boosting food and agricultural production in a sustainable way. This tradition of innovation is closely intertwined with the Danish collaborative culture that dates back to the first dairy cooperatives of the mid- 19th century. The sector today serves as a role model for technological innovation and resource efficiency, as well as high production yields. Consequently, Denmark is today a major exporter of technology that supports the green transition of the global food value chain.
Danish farmers employ precision agriculture to minimise their environmental footprint, while food manufacturers increasingly embrace digital solutions, automation and advanced predictive maintenance tools.
As large-scale consumers of water and energy, the food sector and agriculture industry are pushing for technological smart solutions in order to reduce consumption and recycle wastewater and heat. Livestock manure and food production side streams have consequently become feedstock for Denmark’s growing production of biogas – an energy source that is gradually replacing fossil fuels as part of the renewable energy mix. As such, Denmark’s experience is sought-after by many countries that are seeking to develop high-tech and climate-smart agriculture. The increasing demands on agricultural productivity – born of a combination of rising income, population growth, objectives to meet nutritional requirements, biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation – are fuelling the need for the more efficient agricultural techniques deployed by Danish farmers.
A Long with other Nordic countries — Sweden, Finland and Norway — Denmark is seeking solutions to reduce CO2 emissions and tackle the challenges of climate change.
The longstanding tradition of public-private partnerships in Denmark is an important driver of innovation and development in sustainable dairy farming
Nonetheless, the country is managing to maintain its position as a leader in pork production, which soared to 13.2 million pigs in 2020, the highest figure in 10 years. This is, once again, a result of the cutting-edge technologies along the production line, which were recently presented in Belgrade. Approximately 90 per cent of pigs produced in Denmark are exported, rendering this sector essential to the Danish economy and the country’s balance of trade. Danish pigs are exported to more than 140 countries, with the largest markets by volume being Germany, the UK, Poland, China, Japan, Italy, Russia and Sweden. The Danish pig industry is among the world’s leaders in areas like breeding, quality, food safety, animal welfare and traceability. Indeed, Danish producers are committed to leading the way in finding sustainable solutions to produce meat in a more environmentally friendly way.
Along the same lines, in October 2021, the Danish government reached a broad agreement to push for the green transformation of agriculture, with the aim of reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint and pesticide use, while focusing on biodiversity and new technologies.
Denmark’s proclaimed goal of reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 55 to 65 per cent by 2030 would represent a reduction of 6.1 to 8 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents (a measurement used to compare the impact on global warming of other greenhouse gases, such as methane). The climate agreement includes the largest investment in plant-based research and development by handing $90 million available, for five years, to farmers who produce plant-based foods. Danish companies and start-ups are currently working to replace traditional meat products, such as bacon, hot-dogs, sausages and spreads, with plant-based alternatives. This effort is backed by Danish universities and research centres that are working on innovations related to the production of plant-based food products.
According to the Danish government, plant-based foods are set to become a “central element in the green transition”. The plan aims to establish clear targets for the production and sale of plant-based products, while this agreement makes Denmark the world’s first country to boost plant-based products. Indeed, the Danish government and society have taken on a huge task, given that emission reduction is mainly associated with large reductions in meat production. The main focus so far has been on targeted mitigation policies or the deployment of smart technology. This is in line with public opinion, which doesn’t support the placing of limitations on meat production. While livestock farming and its contributions to emissions are receiving increased attention, Danish multinational dairy cooperatives are also taking major steps to develop advanced farming solutions. Denmark thus serves as a testbed for exploring green farming solutions and improving agriculture and its impact on both nature and climate by exploring regenerative dairy farming.
The longstanding tradition of public-private partnerships in Denmark is an important driver of innovation and development in sustainable dairy farming.
Furthermore, organic farms are encouraged to measure their soil carbon content and register practises that promote biodiversity. The data garnered will play a key role in guiding the right future actions of dairy farmers.