Project Description


Environmentally Friendly Dairy Farming

The world is becoming more aware of environmentally sustainable practices and the impact that people and industry have on natural resources. There is a strong move towards supporting transparent and sustainable brands, with scrutiny focused on both product and packaging.

FIRST CHOICE® is one of the most environmentally friendly brands on the market today. The milk of all dairy products, manufactured by Woodlands Dairy, is sourced from free ranging pasture-fed cows (who are also fed supplementary feeds to balance their rations) in the Eastern Cape.

As companies are increasingly being held accountable for the impact of their operations on the environment, Woodlands Dairy’s commitment relates not just to ensuring the safety and quality of their food products, it includes minimizing the impact on the environment. At Woodlands Dairy, the ongoing focus is on the environment, tackling their environmental footprint right through the life cycle of business from “cow to consumer”.

Sustainable dairy farming is important to Woodlands Dairy, since it is at the farms are where the milk production process begins.

To this end, Woodlands Dairy has implemented the Woodlands Dairy Sustainability Project (WDSP) encompassing a partnership with Trace & Save, an independent agricultural sustainability company, and the Woodlands Dairy Milk Standard. The two legs cover monitoring and improvement of soil, water usage, air and nutrient flows with a resultant Carbon footprint determination; as well as milk quality, staff wellbeing and animal wellbeing on the farms. In addition, the programme covers factory monitoring and reduction of emissions, energy usage, water usage and annual determination of a factory Carbon footprint. An annual survey of staff to determine the level of staff engagement with management is also conducted as part of the holistic Woodlands Dairy Sustainability Program.

Woodlands Dairy recently hosted the WDSP Environmental Stewardship Symposium at Mentors Country Estate, Jeffrey’s Bay on 11 August 2016.

Invited were all Woodlands Dairy producer farmers, representatives of the Eastern Cape Department of Water and Sanitation, Stellenbosch University, the Milk Producer’s Organisation (MPO) as well as representatives of the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism. A significant internationally recognized invitee was the Word Wild Fund for Nature SA (WWF), represented by Sue Viljoen, who is the Water Stewardship Project Manager for South Africa, based in KZN.

Keynote speakers included:

Sue Viljoen, who emphasized that, “in terms of potential impact, water crises ranks as one of the top 3 risks to global growth”. Water stewardship is a progression of improvement in efficiency of water ussage and a reduction in environmental impacts on water sources. It is a commitment to sustainable management of shared water resources. Woodlands Dairy is looking forward to embarking on water stewardship initiatives with the WWF.

Dr. Pieter Swanepoel from Stellenbosch University Department of Agronomy, presented on the biodiversity benefits of multi-species pasture crops. He encouraged farmers to consider planting multiple plant species in their pastures, pointing out the benefits (and limitations) thereof.

Barbara Bieldt, Manager Market Protection & Development of the Milk Producers Organisation (MPO) shared the MPO’s vision of Sustainable Dairy Farming for everyone. Bieldt said that dairy farmers are stewards of the environment, product integrity, farm animals and people of communities and that environmental stewardship and sustainability forms part of the “Market Protection & Development”-pillar of the MPO. The willingness of the Woodlands Dairy producer farmers to join the WDSP and to make an effort to farm sustainability is laudable and admirable.

Portia Phohlo of the Woodlands Dairy Sustainability Project showed the influence of management practices on soil health while Craig Galloway, also of WDSP, presented how economic efficiency on dairy farms relates to sustainability indicators as used in the Trace & Save SWAN System®.

By hosting informative farmer-days like these, Woodlands Dairy presents the resources for sustainability and shares research results encouraging dairy farmers to farm for future generations.

Sue Viljoen from WWF addresses the Woodlands farmers

In this photo Sue Viljoen (WWF South Africa) is speaking to our farmers. Sitting on the right Craig Galloway (WDSP and Trace and Save researcher).

Sue Viljoen from WWF with the Woodands farmers

In this photo are the speakers at the Environmental Stewardship Day. From left to right: Dr Pieter Swanepoel (Stellenbosch University); Wentzel Coetzer (Conservation Outcomes); Portia Phohlo (WDSP and Trace & Save researcher); Barbara Bieldt (Milk Producers Organisation); Sue Viljoen (WWF South Africa); Phillip Terblanche (Trace and Save); Craig Galloway (WDSP and Trace and Save researcher).