Could a low input system be the solution for future dairy production?

Last changed: 14 May 2024
dairy cows on pasture

As the external resources and especially the feeding costs account for the largest part of the inputs in dairy production, it is important to explore alternatives. The project aims to investigate how animal health, welfare, farm economy and the environment is affected in Swedish organic dairy production without external inputs such as concentrate, and where roughage production and grazing are the focus of feeding.

Dairy production is undergoing a fast intensification and trends towards larger farms have accelerated. A high input and a high output (HIHO) can increase the overall farm economy. However, there is also an increasing awareness of the negative impacts of HIHO on the environment, animal welfare and health. It is therefore important to explore more sustainable dairy systems. Low input/low output (LILO) aims to shift the focus from maximizing the production towards minimizing the use of external inputs and increase the use of semi-natural pastures, high-quality roughage and home-grown grains. This would increase the self-sufficiency on farms and potentially improve the sustainability of Swedish food production, while also maintaining biological diversity and support animal health and welfare.  

This is also in line with the goal of the Swedish government, to have 30% of the Swedish agricultural land dedicated to organic farming, while also striving for 60% of public food consumption to consist of organic products by the year 2030.   


A low input system will improve animal welfare, health, the farm economy and enhance the environmental performance.  





SLU Ekoforsk

Project period:

The project runs between 2024 och februari 2028.

Project group:  

Annie Hägglund: (Institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, SLU)

Nils Fall: (Institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, SLU)

Pernilla Tidåker: (Institutionen för energi och teknik, SLU)

Rebecca Danielsson: (Institutionen för tillämpad husdjursvetenskap och välfärd)

Karin Alvåsen: (Institutionen för kliniska vetenskaper, SLU)

Reference group:  

The members of the group are:

Niels Andresen (Hushållningssällskapets intensivrådgivning i Skåne/SLU Centre for Organic Food and Farming)
Johanna Karlsson (Växa),
Camilla Mannich Uggla (KRAV) 
Rolf Spörndly (Institutionen för tillämpad husdjursvetenskap och välfärd).