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Innovative research to be discussed at inaugural California Dairy Sustainability Summit

Updated: Nov 7, 2018

World-renowned livestock air emission scientist Frank Mitloehner will be a keynote speaker at the California Dairy Sustainability Summit.

California dairy farmers have a long history of working with researchers to advance their farming practices. Farmers support cutting-edge research to provide a solid scientific basis for management practices that are environmentally and economically sustainable. Leading researchers will share their latest findings at the inaugural California Dairy Sustainability Summit, taking place November 27-28 in Sacramento.

The summit will bring together dairy farmers, researchers, state officials, technology providers, food and nutrition experts, and other stakeholders to promote continued advancement of dairy economic and environmental sustainability. More than 400 individuals are registered to date, including more than 125 dairy farmers and numerous academic researchers. The event takes place at a time when there is great momentum for advancing scientific knowledge, keeping pace with the state’s world-leading efforts to advance planet-smart dairy farming practices.

This month, new research was published in the Journal of Dairy Science, confirming manure methane emissions come primarily from wet storage of manure. This suggests that current incentive programs are on target, as they aim to either capture methane emissions from manure or avoid those emissions in the first place via changes in manure storage and handling. With financial support from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and cooperation from the Dairy Cares coalition, leading scientists produced the most thorough, detailed measurements of “whole-dairy” methane emissions in California to date. This information is critical as the dairy community continues to work with partners, including researchers, NGOs, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and technology providers to reduce emissions in a cost-effective manner.

Ongoing research continues to further verify and quantify how individual technologies and strategies can effectively target and reduce these emissions from dairy manure. Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality specialist at the University of California, Davis, will provide an opening keynote at the summit, to put California’s efforts to reduce dairy methane into global perspective. He is currently leading a study to measure methane emission levels on dairy farms, before and after the installation of alternative manure management projects, funded by state incentives. This study is one of many ongoing efforts to examine and quantify the reduction of dairy methane emissions.

Dr. Ermias Kebreab will speak about his research of enteric methane emissions and feed additives that show promise to reduce these emissions.

The summit will also include a discussion of feed additives that show potential to reduce enteric emissions—methane that comes directly from cows. Dr. Ermias Kebreab of UC Davis, a leading researcher in this area, will discuss his work to help CARB assess enteric emission levels. He will also discuss his efforts to examine a variety of emerging feed additives that show promise for reducing enteric methane emissions, and how these may affect animal health and performance, as well as public health. Panelists from DSM and Mootral, leading feed additive producers, will also share insights. They will discuss the costs and benefits of these feed additives and how they might be implemented sustainably not only in California, but around the globe.

Another critical area of research to be addressed is the examination of strategies and technologies to further improve the protection of groundwater resources. The dairy community is working in an organized and collaborative manner to chart a path toward improvements in the protection of water quality. Industry leaders are busy working with academic institutions, private industry innovators, and other partners to find new and improved methods to minimize the costs of enhancing water protection on dairies, and to maximize the value of manure and manure-based products. Speakers addressing this topic will include UC Davis Professor, Dr. Ruihong Zhang, who will join a panel discussing opportunities to improve water quality performance on dairies by converting excess manure into potentially valuable fertilizer products that can be used on other farms.

In addition to research presentations on both days of the summit, a poster session will highlight recent research accomplishments in the area of dairy sustainability. Other speakers will include food and nutrition experts, state officials, and dairy farmers. To see the full agenda and to register, visit Value registration rates will continue now through November 23.

To learn more about innovative research and other important topics to be discussed, visit



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