UC Davis Study Clears the Dairy Air

May 6, 2008 7:54:39 AM PDT
Many Valley dairy operators were worried over the impact a dairy emissions study at UC Davis would have on their industry. But they'll be pleased by the findings of an air quality expert. Riverdale dairyman Steve Maddox was pleasantly surprised by the UC Davis study, which concluded dairies were over-stated as a source for smog-forming gases. Maddox said "We have to deal with facts as does the air board and its very difficult when you're fighting with people that sometimes mis-state numbers and use it for their own political and other gains ."

Last November we caught up with UC Davis Professor Frank Mitloehner as he measured various gases produced by cows. The cows were housed in bubbles. Mitloehner's four-month study on how much ozone these dairy gases produce is now complete. He said "What we found was that the potency of that mixture is very low so no matter how much of these gases you produce you actually produce very little smog just because they aren't very potent."

With over four-thousand cows, Maddox Dairy in Riverdale was one of the Valley's original mega-dairies. Steve Maddox said "Everybody does things a little bit different on their dairies and a lot of it is cost return. This just focuses on the minimums are they need to do Silage, or cattle feed, was found to be a major source of emissions. Maddox said "Dairymen need to cover the silage pits anyway."

The study also showed frequent flushing on dairies effectively reduced alcohol emissions. Mitloehner said "I think the dairy industry is hungry for data because a lot of the regulation has not been based on real science because there was none." Frank Mitloehner will present his findings at an air quality conference at UC Davis next month. The dairy industry will be represented, as will various air pollution control districts.

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