Dairy Symposium Draws 200+

The third annual Dairy Symposium drew over 200 attendees for its May event at UW-Madison. The symposium is a research showcase for the UW Dairy Innovation Hub. Scientists shared and discussed their Hub-funded work with researchers, students, campus colleagues, and others.

The symposium is the academic-focused companion to the public-focused Dairy Summit held each November.

The state funds the Dairy Innovation Hub with a $7.8 million per year investment. The Hub harnesses research and development at UW–Madison, UW–Platteville and UW–River Falls campuses. It aims to keep Wisconsin’s $45.6 billion dairy community at the global forefront. Since its launch in 2019, the Hub has funded almost 250 projects and 16 faculty positions across the three campuses.

“The research presented in the keynote talk, for instance, painted a very clear picture about how dairy products bring additional nutrition that substitute products don’t have,” says Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski. “I think that’s something we need to remind people about – to help crystalize that for consumers.”

During breakout sessions, researchers and graduate students presented on topics ranging from food safety to manure management. The afternoon involved a panel of researchers from UW–Madison and the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center. Both are involved in the Greener Cattle Initiative, a $3.3 million project to mitigate enteric methane emissions from dairy cattle. They described their work using genetics to selectively breed cattle that produce lower methane emissions.

“We know the various research projects presented at the symposium take some time to develop,” says Dave Daniels, chair of the Dairy Innovation Hub advisory council and owner of Mighty Grand Dairy. “We’re looking forward to getting some finalizations in the next few years that can go out and support farmers.”

Students also get a lot out of the symposium. This year, 10 students gave talks. More than 30 posters detailing student research projects were available throughout the day.

“It’s great to be here at the symposium, associating with people who do work in real-world agricultural systems,” says Shabda Gajbhiye, a PhD student in the UW–Madison Department of Biological Systems Engineering. “I’m excited to share my research here, which focuses on how to utilize the many wonderful things that microbes can do to improve soil health, crop productivity, and more.”