Climate Change and Agriculture:Mitigation Strategies for Dairy;Discovering the DNA Discovery Center:Collections-Based Research in Evolutionary Biology, Museum Science Communication, and Outreach;Protecting Groundwater from Leaching Soil Contamination;

Come Explore the Unknown!   
By Zoom:  at  
In Person: Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison.
7pm Central
For 2/2/22            
Hi WN@TL Fans,
Going back at least as far as the Babcock butterfat test in 1890, or the establishment of Wisconsin’s Dairy Herd Improvement Association,  it seems that dairy and data go hand in hand.
The waters and land of Wisconsin support about 3.45 million head of cattle, including about 1.28 million milk cows that give the 31 billion pounds of milk annually that produce, among other delights, the making of 3.4 billion pounds of cheese and 8.1 million gallons of ice cream
To help feed the cows, Wisconsin farmers grow 500 million bushels of corn at a yield of 172 bushels per acre (and another 20 million tons of corn silage) and 100 million bushels of soybeans at 54 bu/acre; plus another 7.2 million tons of forage and 3.5 million tons of hay.
A 1,400 pound dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of manure (poop & pee; feces & urine) every day.  Cows are also major producers of methane—a greenhouse gas more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide—mostly through belching out the front end rather than flatulating out the back end.  This double-barreled feature of the bovine gained a surge of notoriety in the last months of 2021, including in Time and in the Financial Times.
Cattle and climate change are a pressing challenge around the globe:  the folks at the Government of Western Australia (capital city: Perth, Best Place on Earth) published an update earlier today on reducing methane production from cattle using feed additives.
Back home in Wisconsin, this week we get to delve into an issue that bears on our economy, our environment, our identity, and our future, was we explore the data revealing what can be done to cut the impacts of dairy on global warming. 
On February 2 Rebecca Larson of Biological Systems Engineering will speak on “Climate Change and Agriculture:  Mitigation Strategies for Dairy.”  
Description: Dairy systems produce greenhouse gases that are lost to the atmosphere and contribute to global climate change. While many energy sources are larger overall contributors, livestock systems are major contributors of methane particularly from enteric methane and manure management systems. In addition to methane, nitrous oxide from crop fields is also a significant source of emissions. 
Mitigation strategies have largely focused on manure management as there are many potential paths for intervention. This talk will cover the larger dairy system and the potential practices that can be implemented on dairy systems to reduce overall emissions. Manure systems are comprised on multiple components, including manure collection, processing, storage, and land application. There are many management interventions that can be integrated into each of these systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Manure processing systems generally hold the largest potential to reduce methane losses from manure. Anaerobic digestion systems and solid liquid separation systems are both commonly integrated on dairy systems and both provide significant benefits. 
This talk will cover the basics of intervention strategies, their overall impact, how we evaluate the impact, and the potential and limitations for further intervention. Finally, it is important to discuss how we measure and track emissions from these systems as the accounting techniques are important for all evaluations of environmental impact assessments. In addition, reducing greenhouse gas emissions has potential to increase other environmental impact categories. This talk will also focus on the tradeoffs facing the livestock industry with specific mitigation strategies.

Bio: Dr. Larson is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Biological Systems Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her B.S, M.S., and Ph.D. in Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University. The main component of her work focuses on increasing sustainability of food waste and livestock manure systems to reduce environmental impact while maintaining profitability.

Explore More:  Explore a virtual dairy and related climate change information on a website designed by Dr. Larson and other researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Penn State. A fact sheet series on climate change and dairy systems in the Great Lakes region (12 fact sheets of various topics) was developed and can be found on the learning store.
Downloads are free, just click on the fact sheet of interest!

On February 9 we celebrate UW Darwin Days with the JF Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution.  Our invited speaker will be Isabel Distefano with the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution at the Field Museum, Chicago, IL.  She will speak by zoom to us on:
“Discovering the DNA Discovery Center:  Collections-Based Research in Evolutionary Biology, Museum Science Communication, and Outreach” 
Description:   Isabel Distefano is a technician in the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution within the Field Museum. This is the museum’s only DNA lab space and she is one of three permanent staff members who helps manage the lab, its projects, and its users. The laboratory was also built out to display a permanent interactive exhibit space within the museum’s public area, called the DNA Discovery Center. Join Isabel for Darwin Day as she presents on the capabilities of the lab and exhibit space, her work as a bench scientist and museum science communicator, and ongoing projects and some collaborations within the lab. 
Explore More: 
Please note:  Isabel Distefano will speak to us by zoom, but you are welcome to come to Room 1111 to watch her talk.  Since we are celebrating Darwin’s birthday (February 12, 1809), we’ll have cake and other refreshments.  Probably will skip the 213  candles, though.
Bob Schneiker at the Sphinx in Egypt
On February 16 Bob Schneiker guides us through computer models that help geologists analyze threats to our water supplies in his talk entitled Protecting Groundwater from Leaching Soil Contamination.”
Description: Soil and groundwater are precious resources that need protection. Permissible concentrations of contaminants in surface soil and groundwater are based on consumption. However, it is difficult to assess threats to groundwater quality posed by contaminants leaching from soil. Many regulatory agencies have turned to contaminant modeling. To ensure adequate protection of groundwater quality the default cleanup objectives are based on a worst-case scenario. Alternatively site-specific modeling can be performed that could indicate that higher levels of soil contamination are permissible while maintaining an equal protection of groundwater quality. Elsewhere, site-specific modeling may indicate that an imminent threat to groundwater quality exists that should be addressed before it gets worse.

Bio: Robert (Bob) Schneiker obtained a BS and MS in Geology/Geophysics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 1992 he performed SESOIL modeling for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Model results were used to establish soil cleanup standards for the WDNR NR 700 Rule Series. Bob provides support and training for his SEVIEW modeling software that is used by regulators and consultants around the world. He has presented papers on contaminant modeling in the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Mr. Schneiker conducts training seminars for consultants and regulatory agencies. He is currently a member of the MassDEP Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFAS) in Residuals Technical Workgroup. Bob also conducts research on the construction, age, and preservation of the Great Sphinx in Egypt.

Explore More:

Remember, we’ve now shifted to Hybrid so we can both Zoom and gather in one Room—Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center, 425 Henry Mall, Madison WI.  
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H
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UW-Madison: 5.9 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university. 

Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round. 
Here are the components of the WN@TL User’s Guide
1. The live WN@TL seminar, every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, at 7pm CT in Room 1111 Genetics Biotech Center and on Zoom at
2. The WN@TL YouTube channel
3. WN@TL on the University Place broadcast channel of PBS Wisconsin 
4. WN@TL on the University Place website
for a small fee in Lot 20, 1390 University Avenue, Madison, WI