Native Microbials was recently awarded a $1.4 million grant from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. The announcement was made by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as part of the USDA's effort to find partners that develop innovative approaches to climate-smart agriculture.
The grant will support the company's project, "Fighting Methane with MIGHT (Microbiome Insights into Greenhouse gases using High-throughput Technologies)." Enteric methane emissions from dairy cattle are a major contributor to the total methane released into the atmosphere, but existing methods to mitigate enteric methane emissions don't provide cost justification or are unproven long-term solutions. The objective of this project is to evaluate the improvement in feed efficiency and the reduction in enteric methane emissions on commercial dairy farms as a result of implementing the company's next-generation microbial feed supplement, Galaxis Frontier. This grant also funds the development of a novel, non-invasive, accurate and scalable oral microbiome-based method to measure enteric methane emissions from dairy cows on-farm. Additionally, a survey of 250 dairymen will assess the perceptions, barriers and risks for adoption of climate-smart agriculture solutions, which will inform research and policy priorities aimed at improving dairy sustainability.
"We are very excited that the USDA sees the potential for our novel product, made with rumen-native microbes, to help mitigate the impact of climate change," said Mallory Embree, chief science officer at Native Microbials. "This funding will help us evaluate the environmental, economic and social impact of Galaxis Frontier and also provide a novel enteric methane emissions quantification method for dairy cattle at a commercial scale."
Added Embree, "We hope that this is the first of many partnerships with the USDA as we continue to develop innovative solutions to support sustainable agriculture."
The project will be conducted with the following collaborators: Ermias Kebreab, Ph.D., University of California – Davis; Jared Talley, Ph.D., Boise State University; Alfonso Lago, DVM, Ph.D., DairyExperts, Tulare, California. In addition, Native Microbials will partner with the U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium (USDETC), Northwest Dairy Association – Darigold (NWDA) and Robert Hagevoort, Ph.D. (New Mexico State University), to identify dairy farms to participate in the on-farm trial. NWDA will also assist in distributing the quantitative survey to dairy producers.