Navigation Links
UNH receives $380,000 grant to study organic dairy as closed ecosystem
Date:6/3/2008

DURHAM, N.H. -- University of New Hampshire researchers have received a significant grant to study UNH's organic dairy research farm as a sustainable closed agroecosystem, exploring viable strategies for becoming energy independent. The $380,000 three-year grant, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (SARE) program, aims to explore whether closing energy and nutrient cycles could help small family dairy farms in the Northeast survive economic vulnerabilities.

The study comes as rising energy, feed and capital investment costs shrink the already narrow profit margin of dairy agriculture in the Northeast, threatening the regional sustainability of the industry. "In a closed system, the only thing leaving the farm is the milk," says John Aber, professor of natural resources at UNH and the principal investigator on the grant. "The goal is to see whether we can have a closed-nutrient-cycle and energy-independent organic dairy."

In a closed system, for instance, cow manure fertilizes the fields on which the herd grazes. Sawdust from woodlands on UNH's 300-acre farm in Lee might be utilized for animal bedding, which is becoming increasingly expensive; woodlands might also provide fuel for small cogeneration plants. Methane digestion could produce usable methane from manure.

The first step for Aber, his faculty co-investigators, and UNH students who are working on the project is to assess energy and nitrogen budgets and balances. Nitrogen, he says, is the nutrient more critical to plant growth in the Northeast than any other; it comes from rainfall but can also be replaced by legumes like soybeans or clover. "If you want to maximize dairy production and dairy output, you need to replace the nitrogen leaving the farm in milk," he adds. In the second and third years of the grant, the researchers will look at alternative ways to close the energy and nutrient cycles.

This past spring, five UNH undergraduates and a graduate student worked with Aber to study nitrogen flows and energy inputs and outputs. Results of those studies suggested that both energy independence and a closed nitrogen system could be achieved through intensive management of manure; changing the bedding method of the farm's 40 cows; increasing the cows' time on pasture; and growing grain, hay bedding and silage on-site instead of purchasing them from external sources.

This research will point UNH -- and, Aber and his collaborators hope, organic dairy farmers from around the Northeast -- toward alternative farm management practices that could lead to more stable economic outcomes for small family farms. "We're moving toward a sustainable, closed system," says Aber, "and toward best-practices to achieve that goal."

Such an ecosystem-level approach to a commercial organic dairy production is unique, at least in the United States, where UNH's organic dairy farm is the first commercial-scale research organic dairy. Aber and co-investigator William McDowell, also a professor of natural resources, bring to the project forest ecosystem experience as investigators on the National Science Foundation's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.

Other co-investigators are associate professor of hydrogeology Matt Davis, Charles Schwab, professor of animal and nutritional sciences and a leader in the founding of the organic dairy, and organic dairy project director Kevin Brussell. "The synergy of ecosystems expertise and dairy expertise is far greater than the sum of its parts," says Aber.

"Family dairy farms are a vital part of the landscape and legacy of the Northeastern United States," says UNH chief sustainability officer Tom Kelly, who conceived of this project. "This research will help small farmers in this region make informed decisions in the face of an uncertain energy and economic future and contribute to a more resilient food system."


'/>"/>

Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Ape language pioneer Savage-Rumbaugh receives honorary Ph.D. from alma mater
2. Jefferson receives $11.6M NIH grant to study novel mechanisms of heart failure
3. BIO-key(R) Receives $335,000 Contract Award From Baltimore Police
4. UCSB receives $3.2 million stem cell grant from state
5. Smithsonian scientist receives 2008 Medal for Excellence in tropical botany
6. Atmel Receives Frost & Sullivans Technology Innovation Award for FingerChip(R) Biometric Sensor
7. McMaster University engineering professor receives Humboldt Research Award
8. BIO-key(R) Receives New Mobile Data Contract Award From Indiana Police Agency
9. UMass Medical School researcher Victor Ambros receives Gairdner Award, Franklin Medal
10. Kansas state flower receives scientific attention
11. BIO-key(R) Receives New Mobile Data Contract Award From Indiana Police Agency
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UNH receives $380,000 grant to study organic dairy as closed ecosystem
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2016 The Department of Transport Management ... 44 million US Dollar project, for the , ... Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international vendors ... Decatur was selected for the most compliant and ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... Calif. , May 24, 2016 Ampronix facilitates superior patient care by ... LMD3251MT  3D medical LCD display is the latest premium product recently added to the ... ... ... Sony 3d Imaging- LCD Medical Display- Ampronix News ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... -- Elevay is currently known as the ... high net worth professionals seeking travel for work   ... there is still no substitute for a face-to-face meeting. ... deal with a firm handshake. This is why wealthy ... citizenship via investment programs like those offered by the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 Epic Sciences unveiled a liquid ... to PARP inhibitors by targeting homologous recombination deficiency ... new test has already been incorporated into numerous ... types. Over 230 clinical trials are ... including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK and WEE-1. Drugs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Mosio, a leader in clinical research patient ... and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research professionals, Mosio revisits the hurdle ... and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape of how patients receive and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" ... commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors ... such as WDR5 represent an exciting class of ... precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. ... microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: