Environmental Management

Cows Grazing

The California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF) has funded California-based initiatives in the sustainability area since 1988.  They are key contributors to the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) and the Dairy Cares communications program. These programs direct their efforts towards improving the environmental stewardship and animal care practices of California dairy farmers through education, communication, and accreditation programs. CDRF’s support has assisted the dairy industry in providing science-based communications in the areas of greater sustainability and environmental management, and enables the industry to promote its commitment to sustainability to industry partners and communities at large.

CDRF invests in programs that take a proactive approach to support the California dairy industry to ensure continues to  achieve an economically viable, socially beneficial, world-class position in environmental sustainability, animal health and welfare.

From farm to fork, the California dairy industry is recognized as a vital source of essential nutrients and needs to be recognized by consumers as proactively managing its relationship with the environment.

Although the California dairy community has already accomplished great strides in environmental stewardship, current and future regulations are wide-reaching, impacting all industries and stakeholders. The regulatory requirements for dairy farms surrounding water quality, water quantity, and air quality, specifically, will continue to impact long-term industry viability. CDRF facilitates and funds effective research, development, and education projects to assist dairy farmers in continued sound environmental management practice improvement. Priority is placed on projects which directly support dairy producers in complying with current and future environmental regulations while maintaining economic viability. CDRF’s research is informing and validating the efforts of California dairy producers and is distributed via direct outreach, CMAB, CDQAP, Dairy Cares and others, such as co-op and processor outreach mediums.

CDRF’s priority research areas of interest for Environmental Management are:

  • Identifying water recharge opportunities on dairies
  • Improving water use efficiency of forage crops
  • Irrigation automation for water and labor savings
  • Achieving water quality compliance on farm
  • Advanced technologies for manure treatment and/or standardization
  • Markets and technologies for exporting manure off farm
  • Methane reduction opportunities and incentives
  • Reducing enteric emissions
  • Quantifying the benefits of dairy digesters and alternative manure management practices
  • Improving soil health and biodiversity
  • Projects that address multiple environmental targets (e.g., water use, air quality, soil health, nutrient management)

See below for current project details.

Aerial view of dairy farm

Production of Pathogen-Free Products from Dairy Manure Solids

Researcher: Ruihong Zhang, UC Davis
Timeline: January 2022 – December 2023

Dairy farm

Dairy Cares

Project Leads: Michael Boccadoro and Jennifer Bingham
Timeline: January to December 2024

Aerial view of dairy farm

Benchmarking and Describing California Dairy Sustainability Metrics

Researcher: Jennifer Heguy, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources
Timeline:  April 2023 – March 2024

Aerial view of dairy farm

Characterizing and Quantifying a Flaxseed Product in Reducing Methane Emissions

Researcher: Ermias Kebreab, UC Davis
Timeline:  January – December 2023

Aerial view of dairy farm

Characterizing and Quantifying Grape Marc in Reducing Enteric Emissions

Researcher: Ermias Kebreab, UC Davis
Timeline: January 2022 – December 2023


California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP)

Project Leads: Michael Payne and Deanne Meyer, UC Davis; Denise Mullinax, CDQAP/CDRF
Timeline: Annual, January to December 2024


Environmental Feasibility of DairyMAR

Researcher: Dr. Helen Dahlke, UC Davis Land, Air, and Water Resources
Timeline: January 2024 – December 2025


Effect of Nanobubbles on Dairy Manure Green House Gasses (GHGs)

Researcher: Dr. Frank Mitloehner, UC Davis Department of Animal Science
Timeline: January 2024 – December 2025

Dairy farm

Evaluation of Manure Treatment Technologies

Researcher: Dr. Deanne Meyer, UC Davis Department of Animal Science
Timeline: January – December 2024