© 2021 Boise State Public Radio

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact us at boisestatepublicradio@boisestate.edu or call (208) 426-3663.
WebHeader_3.png
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
What is the single most important question about COVID-19 you think needs to be answered? Submit it for a special Idaho Matters Doctors Roundtable in English and Spanish.
Environment
Idaho dairy farmers produce more milk and cheese than almost any state in the nation. Idaho is ranked third behind California and Wisconsin.

Mitigating The Impact of Climate Change On Idaho Agriculture

center_for_public_integrity_dairy_farm_jerome_id17.jpg
Joy Pruitt
/
The Center for Public Integrity

Tuesday, the Northwest Climate Conference will be held in Boise. Kate Gordon is an analyst at the Paulson Institute and will speak about how climate change affects economic growth, including its impacts in Idaho.

Gordon says Idaho agriculture both contributes to, and is affected by, a changing climate. Particularly dairy, one of the state’s leading industries.

"I mean cows emit carbon. As do we," Gordon explains with a chuckle. "And methane, of course. Which is what is called a short-term climate-forcer. It’s one of the greenhouse gasses that has a shorter life span."

Gordon grew up in Wisconsin, so she understands the importance of dairy locally.

"To me," says Gordon, "this is all about economic balancing. Wisconsin and Idaho both have big dairy industries. I don’t see those industries going away any time soon. There is a market for those products. The key is going to be how do we reduce the impact of those markets."

One solution, she says, is to take advantage of new technology in mitigating methane.

"One thing that Wisconsin has been doing forever -- and Idaho has really started to doing more of -- is anaerobic digestion. Essentially turning manure into energy. It reduces the amount of emissions from the manure. It can reduce the overall impact. "

According to research published earlier this year by a team of German scientists working with the Idaho National Laboratory, 45 percent of Idaho’s dairy manure could be used to produce biomethane, a substitute for natural gas, by this process of anaerobic digestion.

 
Find Tom Michael on Twitter @tom2michael

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio