Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New project will adapt dairying to climate change

Bob Mitchell at the University of Wisconsin-Madison News: Agricultural scientists from across the nation are embarking on a new five-year, $10 million, USDA-funded effort to identify dairy production practices that minimize the emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG) and will be more resilient to the effects of a changing climate.

The project is led by UW-Madison and involves researchers and extension staff from seven universities, five federal labs of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy, and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the project in Madison on May 7 during a visit to the USDA's Dairy Forage Research Center on the UW campus.

The goal is to find ways to reduce GHG emissions generated in all phases of dairy production while continuing to grow profitability and productivity, says project director Matt Ruark, UW-Madison assistant professor and extension soils specialist.

"We will be working across the entire dairy production system to improve production efficiency while decreasing negative impacts in an effort to support U.S. dairy producers' ongoing sustainability efforts," Ruark says.

"This is about adaptation — how to move agriculture forward to be as productive as possible as we move into a changing climate," Ruark says. "Anything we can do to reduce losses of carbon, nitrogen and water from the system can lead to greater efficiency. This will lead to more profit for the producer, less impact on the environment and a sustainable milk supply for the consumer."...

Cow photo by Brian Thomas, public domain

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