Effect of Waste Milk Application on Reclaimed CRP Grassland Health and Ecosystem Services

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2023: $14,874.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2025
Grant Recipient: TTU NRM
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Caitlyn Cooper-Norris
Texas Tech University


  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Crop Production: fertilizers
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Dairy production in Texas is one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors, with billions of gallons being produced and sold each year. However, with the production of useable milk comes an increase of milk not fit for human consumption, or “waste” milk. Previous studies have shown that a mixture of waste milk and water can act as a fertilizer, causing rapid growth and more available protein in plants. In addition to this, the milk solution can mitigate soil acidity, acting as both a fertilizer and a lime. In the Texas High Plains, many counties are leading dairy producers, but also comprise a large proportion of the state’s acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. This study intends to combine the available waste milk in a high-production county with established CRP land to determine if which solution can increase the cover and yield of native grasses, improve soil health, and support ecosystem services. Vegetative measures will include point intercept methods and clippings. Soil health will be measured in form of pH, bulk density, carbon sequestration, and microbial activity via CO2 evolution. Four concentrations of waste milk will be applied to CRP land, including a control area, to evaluate use efficiency of waste milk.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives for this research are to evaluate:

    • Which of four application concentrations of waste milk and water is most efficient.
    • If the application of waste milk on CRP land will improve quality of forages through increasing protein and digestibility.
    • How the application of waste milk will affect microbial activity and soil parameters.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.