Naomi HammettPhD student
Cows, care and carbon: a study of practices related to greenhouse gas emissions and the environment across dairy farms in North West England
My doctoral research is an investigation of practices on dairy farms in North West England relating to cows, carbon and the environment. Given the climate and ecological emergency much attention has been given to the level of greenhouse gas emissions produced by dairy farms. Many debates around the future of dairy farming have centred around the need to produce more milk, better milk or less milk.
Given that half of total agriculture emissions in the UK in 2018 were found to be from the digestive processes of livestock (CCC, 2020) cows bodies have become a site of contention and intervention within debates over reducing GHG emissions. In a report by Greenpeace (2020, p. 15), they believe that the solution is to halve the number of animals farmed in the EU and to move towards small-scale ecological farming (Ibid.).Within the UK government the prevailing attitude is that all types of dairy systems can help achieve the drastic emission cuts needed (Shortall, 2019) with an emphasis placed on increasing productivity and efficiency, especially through the aid of technology. For example, possible solutions discussed include things such as moving to robotic milking to increase the yield per cow, technologies that allow for the removal of methane and nitrous oxide from slurry tanks and there are many ongoing scientific experiments and trials to either alter the diets of cows or their microbiomes in order to reduce the amount of methane that they produce. However, there is a need to pay attention to how these interventions do and will impact the bodies and lives of cows.
Through a mixture of online interviews with various stakeholders and walking interviews on dairy farms in North West England concerned with practices involving soils, grass, cows, technology, carbon and humans this study hopes to pay attention to more-than-human relations and becomings.
I am the recepient of an Economic and Social Research Council Case Studentship in partnership with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
MA in Environment, Society and Culture (Lancaster University)
BA(Hons) in History (Swansea University)