Of cows and climate: CALS researchers leading effort to make dairy farms ‘greener’

14305158824_7681c59d1c_kAs described in the story “Of Cows and Climate,” published in the Summer 2014 issue of Grow magazine, CALS researchers are leading a far-reaching effort to gather information about greenhouse gases related to dairy—and to give farmers and other industry professionals the tools they need to reduce them.

Now in its second year, the project brings together industry, four USDA labs, dozens of researchers from eight universities, and even Milwaukee’s Vincent High School. Funded through the USDA’s Coordinated Agricultural Projects program, the working nickname for the five-year, $10 million study is Dairy CAP—pronounced as if it were one word.

In 2009, the dairy industry became the first major segment in the U.S. economy to volunteer a significant cut in its greenhouse gas production, vowing to eliminate 25 percent by 2020. To hit that target requires a deliberate look ahead.

Matt Ruark

“What is the climate going to look like in the future?” asks CALS/UW-Extension soil scientist Matt Ruark, leader of the Dairy CAP endeavor. “What is the dairy industry going to look like 10, 20, 50 years from now? And are those two in conflict with each other?”

Answering these questions won’t be easy. The Dairy CAP project, which seeks sustainable dairying as its ultimate goal, will provide not only academic results, but also tools and management practices for farmers.

Read the full story here.