The California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF) and the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation have awarded US$17.97 million in grant funding through the Dairy Plus Program to 15 California dairy farm projects in conjunction with corresponding Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) and Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP) projects.
“We are excited for the projects to get started and to know that California dairy farms will soon be making even greater progress in environmental sustainability — reducing greenhouse gas emissions and also improving nitrogen management,” said Denise Mullinax, executive director of CDRF.
The Dairy Plus Program is a new incentive program operating in alliance with CDFA’s AMMP and DDRDP programs, which incentivize projects to increase dry handling and storage of manure to reduce methane production or projects to capture methane via digesters. In addition to the methane reduction benefits, Dairy Plus Program practices further improve nutrient management and water quality outcomes. Projects selected for funding included vermifiltration (filtration of manure wastewater using worm beds), advanced solid separation assisted by flocculants (coagulation of fine manure solids for separation out of liquid) and weeping walls (non-mechanical separation of manure solids from water) that reduce methane production while improving management of nitrogen.
Dairy Plus Program incentive funds will help bring emerging technologies that reduce methane and improve groundwater protection to California dairies as full-scale projects. The practices will be measured by UC researchers to quantify emission reductions and improved water quality outcomes. Funding for the Dairy Plus Program is provided through CDRF, in collaboration with CDFA, as part of a larger Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant awarded to CDRF by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). All announced awards are contingent upon dairy farmers completing a pre-project consultation and meeting federal requirements.
This year’s Dairy Plus program recipients are estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an annual total of 148,451 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2e), the equivalent of removing about 32,600 cars from the road each year.