Man walking away toward barn holding a metal pail in each hand and surrounded by cows Man walking away toward barn holding a metal pail in each hand and surrounded by cows

Dairy, Soil & Water Regeneration Grant Promotes Integrated Research to Support Dairy Industry Commitment to Sustainability

Generating Integrated Soil and Water Management Solutions
Generating Integrated Soil and Water Management Solutions

Program Contact

Dr. Kathleen Boomer

Image for

Tim Kurt, DVM

Dairy Management Inc.

Year Awarded  2022

FFAR award amount   $10,000,000

Total award amount   $23,200,000

Location   Rosemont, IL

Matching Funders   Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), Newtrient NestleStarbucks and other Net Zero Initiative partners

What is the problem this research tackling?

Dairy farmers face increasing pressure from the private and public sectors to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This grant to the Dairy Research Institute (DRI) addresses research gaps in integrated agricultural soil and water management strategies and manure-based fertilizer products that support the dairy community’s Net Zero Initiative, an industry-wide effort to adopt practices and technologies that improve environmental health.

The funding will support the first five years of a six-year project, “Dairy Soil & Water Regeneration: building soil health to reduce greenhouse gases, improve water quality and enable new economic benefits,” that will produce data to be broadly shared among the dairy community to:

  • Provide measurement-based assessments of dairy’s greenhouse gas footprint for feed production.
  • Set the stage for new market opportunities related to carbon, water quality and soil health.

Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) scientists are leading the project to determine how soil characteristics vary in response to field setting and management practices across different U.S. regions where dairy operations are concentrated. The team is also evaluating the ecosystem benefits of new manure-based fertilizer products. Researchers will investigate how familiar soil health practices interact with water management practices and work with modelers to improve predicted outcomes of alternative management strategies. Through foundational science, on-farm pilots and development of new product markets, NZI aims to create incentives for farmers that will lead to economic viability and positive environmental impacts.

Addressing the U.S. dairy industry’s emissions is a critical solution to climate change. I know dairy farmers are working hard to decrease their environmental footprint and I’m thrilled to support their efforts by advancing research needed to adopt climate-smart practices on dairy farms across the country. Sally Rockey, Ph.D.
Executive Director Emeritus

Why this research is important

Dairy farmers face increasing pressure from the private and public sectors to reduce environmental impacts from feed production. Agricultural soil and water resource conditions are inextricably linked and must be managed together. This research aims to better understand how soil water content, and thereby agriculture water management, influences the biogeochemical processes underlying soil health to help farmers reduce their environmental impact.

After six years, we will have data that accurately reflect our farms’ greenhouse gas footprint for dairy crop rotations with consideration for soil health management practices and new manure-based products. We expect to develop critical insights that link soil health outcomes, such as carbon sequestration, with practice and technology adoption. This will provide important background information to support the development of new carbon and water quality markets. Dr. Jim Wallace
DMI Senior Vice President of Environmental Research

Details About This Research

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