Partnership achieved reductions in water use,
greenhouse gas emissions
The award-winning project was nominated by the CMAB, a farmer-funded organization focused on building demand for products made with milk from California dairy farms. Results from field trials organized by Sustainable Conservation, a non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., demonstrated that the sub-surface irrigation system can use up to 35 percent less water while maintaining or even increasing crop yields. The system also reduces irrigation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent, according to research conducted by the University of California.
“Innovation, such as the subsurface drip irrigation technology piloted on De Jager and McRee dairies, has been a key contributor to making California dairy farms global leaders in milk production and environmental performance,” said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. “California dairy farm families continue to implement practices that are good for their communities, consumers and our planet. We’re pleased to see these dairies earn national recognition that spotlights advancements in water savings and greenhouse gas reductions.”
“Less water is applied, drinking water is protected from nitrate contamination and fewer soil nitrous oxide emissions are emitted,” said Ryan Flaherty, Director of Business Partnerships at Sustainable Conservation. “Cumulatively, this is a huge environmental and health benefit for all Californians, including dairies and surrounding communities.”
The environmental savings demonstrated by the sub-surface irrigation system build on the noteworthy progress California dairy families have made to reduce environmental impacts over the past 50 years. A recent study published in the Journal of Dairy Science found that the amount of water used to produce a gallon of milk decreased by more than 88 percent from 1964 to 2014, while greenhouse gas emissions per gallon of milk decreased more than 45 percent over that same period.
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards are presented annually by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois and sponsored by DeLaval, Phibro, the United States Department of Agriculture and Zoetis.