“Silvopasture” dairy farming

Location: Colombia

Impact Area

  • Nutrition
  • Water
  • Rural Development
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Compliance
  • Community engagement
  • Gender balance & diversity
Sep 18, 2012, updated September 2012

“Silvopasture” dairy farming
DAIRY FARMING:Nestlé advises cattle farmers on environmentally sustainable farming practices.

Nestlé has been the main dairy company permanently active in the Caquetá region of Colombia, since its arrival more than 35 years ago.

The area was identified as a region with high potential for milk production but had also suffered from erosion. The region has now evolved into a dairy district, where Nestlé works closely with farmers to provide advice on the latest technologies, animal nutrition, animal genetics and farm infrastructures.

Cattle farmers of Caquetá have their milk permanently collected by simple but ingenious means such as animal-drawn carts, trucks or canoes, and have now managed to consolidate one of the most promising dairy districts in the south of Colombia. Importantly, livestock farming also constitutes the main source of legal income in a region suffering from armed conflict and narcotics cultivation.

Programme description

With the aim of increasing fresh milk production volume, reducing the amount of land use and introducing environmentally sustainable practices, Nestlé Colombia started to work with 13 pilot Caquetá cattle farms to gradually introduce a new system called “Silvopasture”.

This system protects the soil and the environment by combining pasture land with trees and shrubs, increasing profit for the farmer along with milk quality and quantity (litres / hectare).

Furthermore, the introduction of leguminous shrubs to the traditional grasslands brings a multitude of benefits: enhances the productivity of the land without increasing livestock borders; improves pasture fertility because the trees extract water and nutrients from soil horizons; and provides direct benefits such as fruits, firewood and timber. Additionally, tree cover offers a favourable microclimate for the animals; keeping them cool and therefore maximising productivity.

This project is part of Nestlé Colombia’s Dairy Development Plan with 234 acres across the 13 farms pilot farms. The farmers have committed not to deforest, to generate new pasture areas and to manage their water supplies carefully. The initial results appear promising and milk production per cow has increased; the average number of cows per hectare has increased and the average monthly farm profits have also increased. Since the start of the project, production increased by 147%.

Value to Society

  • Income of the farmers has risen by 47% in average
  • Farmers enjoy increased milk production per hectare with enhanced nutritional content and microbiological quality
  • Improvement on the management of the 234 acres involved, reducing erosion
  • Increase of employment adding an average of two hires by farms
  • The local community profits from a sustainable dairy farming market in a region suffering from armed conflict and narcotics cultivation

Value to Nestlé

  • Milk production per cow has increased from 4.8 litres to 6.2 litres per day, and from 1.8 to 7 litres per hectare. Since the start of the project, overall production increased by 147%
  • The average number of cows per hectare has increased from 0.6 to 1.0
  • In ten pilot farms, the average milk production per farm has increased from 180 litres per day to 249 litres per day, an increase of 38%

Next Steps