Posted: Oct 19, 2010 4:32 pm
by HughMcB
Don't Blame Dairy Cows for (Greenhouse) Gas Emissions, New Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Oct. 19, 2010) — Forget all the tacky jokes about cow flatulence causing climate change. A new study reports that the dairy industry is responsible for only about 2.0 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions.

The study, led by the University of Arkansas in association with Michigan Technological University, measures the carbon footprint of a gallon of fluid milk from farm to table and uses 2007 and 2008 data from more than 500 dairy farms and 50 dairy processors, as well as data from more than 210,000 round trips transporting milk from farm to processing plant. It was commissioned by the Innovation Center for the US Dairy, an industry-wide group.

The University of Arkansas addressed carbon emissions from the dairy to the milk in your cereal bowl. The Michigan Tech group looked further upstream. "We focused on the carbon footprint of the feed crops," said chemical engineering professor David Shonnard, director of the Sustainable Futures Institute. "Animal feed is a major contributor to carbon emissions." Using US Department of Agriculture data, Shonnard's team, including PhD student Felix Adom and four undergraduates (Ashely Maes, Charles Workman, Zachary Bergmann and Lilian Talla), analyzed the impact of variables ranging from fertilizer and herbicides to harvesting and transportation. "We also looked at a Michigan feed mill, where grain gets combined with any of over a hundred different additives," he said.

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Image
A new study by the University of Arkansas and Michigan Tech shows
that the dairy industry -- including this Jersey cow -- is responsible
for only about 2 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions.
(Credit: Photo by Stephen Kennedy, courtesy of the Innovation Center for the US Dairy)