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Article

Evaluation of Virtual Water and Water Sustainability of Dairy Production in Trentino Alto Adige (North-Eastern Italy)

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Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università Del Salento, Via per Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy
2
Dipartimento di Scienze Dell’Economia, Università Del Salento, Via per Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy
3
Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche Veterinarie, Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna, Via Tolara di Sopra 50, 40064 Ozzano dell’Emilia, Italy
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Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria e Produzioni Animali, Università di Napoli Federico II, Via Delpino 1, 80137 Napoli, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Andrea Pezzuolo, Felice Adinolfi, Marcello De Rosa and Jorgelina Di Pasquale
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1047; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041047
Received: 28 February 2021 / Revised: 2 April 2021 / Accepted: 6 April 2021 / Published: 8 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Management in Small/Medium Scale Animal Farms)
Dairy consumption is growing, and both the Italian production and the importation of dairy products are increasing to meet demand. As a first step toward understanding the environmental impacts of water use in the expanding dairy industry, the water footprint approach was used to compute the virtual water and water sustainability of dairy system in Trentino Alto Adige, a region characterized by small-scale farms and typical production. The results highlight that dairy products can be produced with minimal potential to contribute to freshwater scarcity. However, dairy production systems vary, both in production patterns and local environmental context. The development of dairy farming systems with high consumptive water requirements should be avoided in water-stressed regions and supported in particularly suitable regions, as Trentino Alto Adige.
Dairy products play a significant role in the human diet, but they are often associated with high freshwater resource depletion. In Italy, the dairy sector represents more than 12% of the total turnover of the agri-food sector. Trentino Alto Adige is the first Italian region in terms of number of dairy farms, but it does not register a quantitatively consistent dairy production. Notwithstanding, it is characterized mostly by small-scale farms whose strengths are the Protected Designations of Origin and typical mountain productions. The present study aims at: (i) accounting for the virtual water VW of the main dairy products (milk, butter and cheese) produced in Trentino Alto Adige; (ii) estimating the renewable water resources based on the water flow assessment of the study area; (iii) assessing water sustainability comparing the virtual water consumption of the dairy sector at a regional level to the water availability. The findings show that the consumptive virtual water related to dairy production represents about 1% of the water availability in Trentino Alto Adige. Italy’s domestic dairy production is expanding to meet the growing demand, but the expansion of dairy farming in water-stressed regions should be avoided, preferring instead suitable mountain regions where small-scale farms represent a lively entrepreneurial substrate. View Full-Text
Keywords: mountain environment; water footprint; dairy farming; small-scale farms; milk; butter; cheese; product designation of origin mountain environment; water footprint; dairy farming; small-scale farms; milk; butter; cheese; product designation of origin
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MDPI and ACS Style

Miglietta, P.P.; De Leo, F.; Coluccia, B.; Vecchio, Y.; Capitanio, F. Evaluation of Virtual Water and Water Sustainability of Dairy Production in Trentino Alto Adige (North-Eastern Italy). Animals 2021, 11, 1047. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041047

AMA Style

Miglietta PP, De Leo F, Coluccia B, Vecchio Y, Capitanio F. Evaluation of Virtual Water and Water Sustainability of Dairy Production in Trentino Alto Adige (North-Eastern Italy). Animals. 2021; 11(4):1047. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041047

Chicago/Turabian Style

Miglietta, Pier Paolo, Federica De Leo, Benedetta Coluccia, Yari Vecchio, and Fabian Capitanio. 2021. "Evaluation of Virtual Water and Water Sustainability of Dairy Production in Trentino Alto Adige (North-Eastern Italy)" Animals 11, no. 4: 1047. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041047

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