Fighting dairy’s carbon footprint with a hackathon

Start-Up Spotlight at this year’s Speciality & Fine Food Fair
Credit: science photo

Finnish dairy manufacturer is aiming to solve the carbon emissions associated with milk production by inviting teams to enter a hackathon competition.

The competition aims to find solutions for the reduction and utilisation of the methane produced by cows, as well as accelerating methane transformation to carbon dioxide.

According to Statistics Finland, roughly 2.5% of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions derive from milk production.

The competition, named the ‘Milk farm methane hack’, tasks the participants with developing a future milk farm that is able to make use of methane gas to generate new business opportunities while reducing its environmental impact.

The ideas can be about reducing methane output per cow, accelerating methane transformation to carbon dioxide, capturing methane or utilising it locally, near the farms. Sign-up is currently underway and will continue until 17 January.

The two-day hackathon will be held in February 2018. In addition to cash prizes, the best teams will get the opportunity to refine their concept in cooperation with Valio.

Hackathons are events in which teams representing different fields gather together, usually for a day or two, to solve a pre-determined task.

The judges of the competition include experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Tekes, in addition to representatives of Valio.

“The methane production of Finnish dairy farms has declined by nearly 40% over the past 25 years, mainly due to animal breeding,” said Mika Koskinen, Executive Vice President at Valio.

“As a significant milk producer Valio is responsible for continuously pursuing solutions that would allow us to reduce and use the methane gas generated as efficiently as possible. The new ideas yielded by the competition will benefit the entire agricultural sector.”