DairyGEM is similar to IFSM, but it is a more simplified version specific to dairy production.
“In DairyGEM, there are a few more emission factors that we’re not simulating all the processes in as much detail as with IFSM. DairyGEM really is just the animal- and the manure-handling components of IFSM," says Rotz.
Those components were pulled out of IFSM and into their own user interface through DairyGEM.
He says it has made DairyGEM a more user-oriented tool that is easier to operate compared to IFSM.
The emissions calculations have also been simplified, and it offers more graphical output.
“We pretty much designed it so that it would be more usable to a broader audience, including producers,” he relates.
Emissions on the front burner
Rotz thinks it would be beneficial for producers to utilize IFSM because of all the information that can be obtained, but the amount of time spent inputting data is a setback.
“From that standpoint, there are not that many producers who are using it. If producers took the time to really program their operation and run it, they’d learn a lot about what is impacting their farm performances as well as the economics of the farm and the environmental impact,” says Rotz.
Right now, both IFSM and DairyGEM are not being widely used. In fact, they are primarily being used at the university level for research studies related to environmental issues.
While IFSM requires a large time investment, DairyGEM provides the more concise version to help reduce that investment.
“I think it’s pretty understandable. Producers are very busy people. Unless something has a direct benefit to them, it’s just one of those things that go on the back burner. It might be nice, but who has the time to do it? I think that’s kind of where it is on the environmental issue. I think there are a lot of producers who are environmentally conscious; they want to do the right thing, and they’re really trying to do their best. But they’re so busy with everything that it’s not something that is necessarily on the front burner,” says Rotz.
Yet, with continued pressure from an environmentally concerned consumer base, the time for looking at these types of models is approaching.
“Farmers have the tools to make really good long-term decisions for how to structure their farm for the future,” relates Young.