Maine sustainable dairy project one of 15 awarded funds by USDA

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:33 AM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - The USDA recently invested more than $146 million in sustainable agricultural research projects.

Nichole Price, a professor of environmental sustainability at Colby College and senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory, runs one of just 15 projects around the country that received this funding. Her project, Coast to Cow to Consumer, aims to develop feed supplements from seaweeds or micro algae, that will improve milk yields while reducing the environmental footprint in milk production. Price says the research began in Australia, but Maine farmers wanted to know if the same could be done here.

“A particularly important component of the project is sustainability of rural farming systems, so one aspect of the feed that gets developed is it must be profitable for every step of the supply chain,” said Price. “Aroostook County in particular, there’s a few organic farms there, dairy farms, a few conventional farms, there’s also a little bit of beef production in that area. So while this funding from USDA right now is focused on dairy production and dairy sustainability, some of the solutions that we could potentially come up with in this research could also be applicable to beef production.”

Cattle is one industry that faces particular challenges with sustainability, and Price says her research aims to meet that challenge in a pragmatic way. They’re even researching bioreactors so that plankton that can be grown inland for landlocked states. Price says she believes the northeast region can be used as a model for the rest of the US.

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