Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
A number of conditions – including weather, fertilizer use, waste stream management and (ahem) cow belches – affect the amount of greenhouse gases that dairy farms emit, potentially harming the local environment and its people. To help find areas where farmers could lower such emissions on their plots, the University of New Hampshire will launch a three-year study to measure the amount of greenhouse gases produced by farms in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, the (New Hampshire) Union Leader reports. According to a UNH release, researchers will collect data on the amount of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emitted from traditional and organic dairy farms. A computer-based system will allow participating farmers to compare conventional and organic farming practices and help them decide what to do to control their farm’s greenhouse gas levels. Funds from the $700,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that subsidized this project are also being used to help increase the competitiveness of organic farmers and their products.