By Deanne Meyer, Ph.D. Livestock Waste Management Specialist, Department of Animal Science, UC Davis and UC ANR

The Dairy Plus Program is part of Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities grant from USDA. A total of 15 projects ($17.97M) from the first solicitation round are in the process of being awarded to California Dairy Operators. The purpose of these projects is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions AND improve nitrogen management on farms. The program is open to all producers, including those who have previously implemented improved manure management through Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) or installed an anaerobic digester to capture biogas. Hence the name Dairy Plus…going beyond AMMP and digesters.

Dairy operators in Priority 1 or Priority 2 nitrate management zones may want to consider the Dairy Plus Program as a possible means to improve nitrogen balance while reducing methane emissions. Important in the application process is understanding where your facility stands with respect to nitrogen management. Consider manure management in 5 years should your facility have water use limitations due to Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation. You can analyze your annual report submitted to the Regional Water Quality Control Board to get an idea of nitrogen balance at your facility. Soon, a spreadsheet will be available to aid in this process.

The upcoming application cycle announcement through CDFA is anticipated in late spring. However, producers who start now will have the greatest amount of time to work with their engineer, vendors, San Joaquin Air District, Regional Water Quality Control Board, County regulatory agency, etc. to complete the application and begin the permitting process.

Beginning now provides the greatest lead time to work with the design team to identify the logical area for development and ensure adequate utilities will be available.

It is anticipated that the solicitation process for Dairy Plus will be in spring. We’ll be sure to highlight dates once we know them. In the meantime, if you haven’t already participated in AMMP or installed a digester, those programs will also be available in spring. Each program requires an application. It’s important to start this process (engineer design, permits, talking with vendors, working with financial institutions) as soon as possible.