By Taylor Gracyalny, communications assistant
The Dairy Innovation Hub has made more than 100 funding awards since 2019 at UW–Madison, UW–Platteville and UW–River Falls. Faculty at these campuses are harnessing the power of research and development to keep Wisconsin’s dairy community at the global in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner.
Hub researchers are asking BOLD questions with hopes of making BIG discoveries that will impact farmers, processors, citizens, and communities alike. Research is a long-term investment, but in some cases, there are projects that already have preliminary data – or those that don’t require long timelines.
Research designed to address ongoing concerns with water quality is encompassed in one of four core pillars of the Hub, “stewarding land and water resources”. But for environmental solutions to have meaningful adoption among farmers and processors, there must be a significant economic impact.
Three projects working to merge environmental and economic sustainability were the focus of a session at the 2021 Dairy Strong conference, coordinated by the Dairy Business association.
Susanne Wiesner, a postdoc in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at UW-Madison, spoke about her research involving the environmental impacts and profitability of cropping management in dairy systems. Her project is focused on how agricultural vegetation can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help improve soil quality, as well as how these systems can be profitable for farmers.
Field trials for this research have been established at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center farm in Prairie du Sac, Wis. Small scale plots measuring 30 feet by 30 feet are repeated four times in four blocks, with six different cropping treatments and three different manure treatments.
“These measurements help us understand what cropping systems offer the greatest rate of soil improvements, the highest forage quality for milk production, or the greatest carbon sink potential,” says Wiesner. “Following with that data we can determine economic tradeoffs through milk production and income from ecosystem service credits”.
Matthew Digman, assistant professor at UW-Madison, along with colleagues Rebecca Larson, Joseph Sanford, and Iris Feng, is working to understand how precision agriculture can improve manure nutrient utilization.
Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) is a leading technology that allows for manure nutrient composition prediction and computes data into a form that is useful for farmers.
Digman shared, “We’re really trying to understand how useful nutrient prediction technology is for managing nutrient variability,” he says. “Our pilot study, funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub, looks at using fixed and variable rate manure on different plots of land with different soil sampling and management zones to see if we can really drive changes.”
Joseph Wu and John Obielodan, associate professors at UW-Platteville, are developing milk-protein-based 3D printing biocomposites. 3D objects made from milk proteins is beneficial to the dairy community because it allows milk to be reused, rather than dumped due to expiration, storage, waste or overproduction.
Two 3D printing approaches have been used in this project, the extrusion-based process and the vat photopolymerization process. “We have the primary objective to convert the proteins casein and whey, into raw materials that can be used to 3D print objects for engineering applications or for other applications in our society”, says Obielodan.
Preliminary results have shown that tensile strengths decrease marginally with casein addition and there is a higher stiffness for samples with casein concentration cured for 30 minutes.
To learn more about the Hub and to subscribe for updates, visit dairyinnovationhub.wisc.edu
The full recording of this session is available on the Dairy Strong YouTube page.This article was posted in Uncategorized.