Net Zero Initiative enters next phase
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, Syngenta, and The Nature Conservancy are moving into a new phase of an inter-industry collaboration with dairy farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality, and strengthen farm resilience.
The goal of the partnership is to create a program and toolset of best management practices in feed/forage production and feed efficiency that is both easy to replicate and scalable. Their work is part of a five-year effort started by the U.S. Dairy Net Zero Initiative in 2020 to develop better on-farm strategies with the intention to meet the 2050 environmental stewardship goals set by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
The collaboration is currently working with dairy farms based in Wisconsin, who are member-owners of Foremost Farms USA Dairy Cooperative. The initiative is actively working to expand into other states each year. Farmers already included in the initiative are offered a multitude of opportunities to incorporate hybrid feeds to assist their cattle in breaking down starches.
“Innovative by their nature, U.S. dairy farmers have made great progress in reducing their environmental impact,” says Barbara O’Brien, president and CEO of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “Powerful collaborations like this provide essential support and increased knowledge and tools to help farmers in their efforts to further benefit the environment.”
Increasing feed efficiency has a massive potential effect on the environment. The projected savings and benefits from increasing feed efficiency are significant for climate-impacting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as land, water, and energy use. Farmers will also be offered a toolkit of other recommended practices, including cover crops and reduced tillage, to implement with support from the collective team of experts.
“Farmers are looking for choice, both in the inputs they’re using in their operation as well as the technologies and services they’re adopting,” says Val Dolcini, head of business sustainability and government affairs, North America for Syngenta. “Ultimately, we want to help provide solutions that are not only better for the environment but also maintain a high production output for farmers, helping ensure their operations are profitable and sustainable for the next generation.”
The Net Zero Initiative focuses on four areas of dairy production: feed production, enteric methane reduction, energy efficiency, and manure management. The initiative takes pre-existing technologies and practices and helps to accelerate widespread adoption in practices like sequestering carbon, converting manure and waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer, renewable energy and other valuable products, and contributing to ecosystem markets.
“Dairy foods are an important source of nutrition,” O’Brien says. “The positive sustainable impacts of pioneering efforts like this provide one more reason to feel good about choosing dairy.”