Sustainable organic and low-input dairying [SOLID] is a European Commission funded project involving 25 partners across Europe, from 2011-2016. 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.
The SOLID project, involving a multi-disciplinary team comprising researchers and stakeholder partners across Europe, encompassing dairy cows and goats has addressed a suite of issues that contribute to the competitiveness of the dairy industry and sought to increase the effectiveness with which these benefits are delivered.
The project employed a strong participatory approach to further nurture farmer-led innovation and 18 participatory projects examined a range of issues to help further knowledge on sustainable organic and low-input dairying. The concept of ‘adapted breeds’ for low input systems was examined along with the development of a tool to help assess welfare on farms.
Options for nutritional improvement in low input systems were examined including a unique assessment of the energy requirement of dairy cows offered diets containing a large forage proportion. Life cycle assessment tools were further developed to assess environmental sustainability of grassland-based multifunctional dairy systems. Socio-economic modelling has examined a range of innovations at farm level and along supply chains and examined the impact of more widespread adoption of low-input practices.