Organic and low-input dairy farming systems are increasingly noted as delivering multifunctional benefits to the agricultural industry and society but technical and economic constraints prevent widespread adoption. SOLID will deliver an innovative toolbox of novel methodologies that will contribute to the competitiveness of the dairy industry and increase the effectiveness with which these benefits are delivered. SOLID facilitates the use of breeds and feeding strategies to maintain productivity, improve animal health and welfare while meeting the market requirement for high quality milk. A multidisciplinary team comprising academic and stakeholder (SME) partners across Europe, encompassing dairy cows and goats, will identify and apply novel strategies at the farm level and throughout the supply chain.
Innovative science and models, combined with a participatory approach, will tackle practical issues, and assess competitive sustainability and integration across a range of scales and geographical contexts. Proteomics combined with genotyping and calorimetry will be used to characterise and quantify dairy cow and goat breed adaptation to organic and low-input systems. Given the reliance of such systems on forage, SOLID will develop novel and sustainable feed resources and design a decision-support model to optimise the management of on-farm forage supply. Life cycle assessment tools will assess environmental sustainability of grassland-based multifunctional dairy systems. Analysis of the supply chain from fork to farm will quantify the acceptability of new strategies and enhance collaboration. An integrated assessment tool and socio-economic modelling will assess innovations on farms and along supply chains, and will predict the impact of more widespread adoption of low-input practises.
Effective knowledge dissemination and exchange activities will target key stakeholder groups ensuring exploitation of outputs at animal, region, sector and European levels.