A new study praises some of the dairy cows in Stanislaus and Merced counties for doing their part to curb climate change.
It deals with digesters, which use bacteria to turn manure into electricity. On the one hand, this reduces methane, one of the most potent of the gases causing global warming. On another, it reduces the need to generate power from coal or natural gas, which also contribute to the problem.
Digesters have been slow to spread in California’s vast dairy industry, but our area has a couple of notable examples at farms that also are cheese producers. One is at Fiscalini Cheese Co., northwest of Modesto. The other is at Joseph Gallo Farms near Atwater, which sells under the Joseph Farms label.
The study, by the global firm of Ramboll Environ, looked at the cost of various climate projects funded by the California Air Resources Board with money from emitters who do not meet the standards.
The study found that dairy digesters cost an average of $7 per ton of carbon dioxide – or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases – that is kept out of the atmosphere. Other projects ranged from $2 to $1,250 per ton.
“Dairy anaerobic digesters are a proven and highly effective method of reducing greenhouse gases, particularly methane, from agriculture,” said Dawn Chianese, the study’s primary author, in a news release.
An industry group called Dairy Cares urged state officials to spend at least $100 million per year to expand the practice.
“Dairy digesters provide great bang-for-the-buck when compared to other investments,” Executive Director Michael Boccadoro said.
ELSEWHERE ON THE FARM BEAT: Beef producers will gather in Stockton on Jan. 22 to talk about dealing with wildlfire threats on the nonirrigated rangeland flanking the Central Valley.
It is the annual summit of the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, which includes ranchers, academics, environmentalists and other people interested in the future of this vast acreage.
The summit will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Robert Cabral Agricultural Center, 2101 E. Earhart Ave. The cost is $60 for general admission, but ranchers can get a two-for-one deal and students can get a half-off discount.
Attendees also can take part in one of three tours of fire-scarred rangeland the day before, for $40 more. They are the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County, the Butte Fire in Calaveras and Amador counties, and the Tesla Fire in San Joaquin and Alameda counties.
Registration and other details are at www.carangeland.org.