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High Quality Development Requires High Potential Talents

2020-4-26 9:32:10 Comments:0 Views:326 category:SDDDC News

According to the Ministry of Education, 662.1 thousand Chinese students studied overseas in 2018, of which 596.3 thousand were self-funded while others were sponsored by the Chinese government or other organizations. A rough estimation indicates that the total number of overseas Chinese students arrived at about 710 thousand in 2019. Among this large group of students, only a minimal portion have devoted themselves to the study of dairy-related fields. While the dairy industry is leaping forward in China, the shortage of high potential talents in all fields of the industry has become more and more prominent, which overshadows the transformation and development of many dairy enterprises.

Since its foundation in 2013, the Sino-Dutch Dairy Development Center (SDDDC) has been exploring new models of cultivating talents. Its doctoral program and young lecturers plan have trained a number of talents for the dairy industry. Since 2014, a total of nine outstanding graduate students have gone to Wageningen University for further study via SDDDC (some were sponsored by CSC-DPSD program), and SDDDC has invested over 2 million Euros (including some funding from the China Scholarship Council) on training students. SDDDC has also supported five young lecturers to further their education abroad. Over 10 million Yuan of funding from SDDDC has been granted to over 30 research projects on dairy-related fields, the research topics covering all the links of the dairy industry chain. The strong practicability and solid social effects of those researches will help to break through the bottleneck of the development of China’s dairy industry.  

On the afternoon of April 24th, SDDDC held the fifth “Dairy Talk” that focused on the internationally cultivated dairy talents. Eight PhDs or PhD students were invited to attend the talk to share their experiences of studying in the Netherlands and their research achievements. Professor Tiny van Boekel from Wageningen University, the coordinator of CSC-DPSD program on the Dutch side; Ms. Ying Tang, Deputy Director of China Agricultural University International Cooperation and Communication Department; Mr. Shenglin Ding, Chief Representative of Wageningen University China Office; Mr. Kees de Koning, Manager of Dairy Campus of Wageningen University & Research, and Chairman of the Steering Committee of SDDDC; and Professor Shengli Li, Director of SDDDC, attended the event and contributed their comments. The host and the interpreter of the Talk was James Su, Secretary-General of SDDDC and Executive Director of East Rock Farm Technologies Co., Ltd..

Professor Tiny van Boekel from Wageningen University, the coordinator of CSC-DPSD program on the Dutch side, pointed out that in accordance to its white paper, SDDDC has been engaged in cutting-edge and fundamental studies since it was founded, aiming to solve existing problems the dairy industry is facing now. So far SDDDC cultivate talents primarily through the joint research program and PhD program. The four-year PhD program allows the PhD students to delve deeply into a specific field to produce knowledge and solve practical problems, and lays the foundation for their future development. Their research projects shared in this Dairy Talk covered a wide variety of topics throughout the industry chain, each stemming from fundamental researches and yet aiming for practical application. They provide possible solutions to the current difficulties in the industry.

Ms. Ying Tang, the Deputy Director of China Agricultural University International Cooperation and Communication Department, indicated that after China Agricultural University, Wageningen University, and Royal FrieslandCampina initiated and launched SDDDC, it has contributed significantly to talents training, technical research and development, and international communications of the dairy industry. She underlined that in future China Agricultural University would highlight the researches on agricultural science, food science and nutritional engineering, and human health, and would work for the global agricultural production and food security. She encouraged all the students who were in the Sino-Dutch talent-cultivating programs to make their contribution to the development of dairy industry in both countries.

Mr. Shenglin Ding, Chief Representative of Wageningen University China Office, was invited to attend the event. He introduced the organizational structure of Wageningen University & Research, and explained the advantages and benefits of the “Golden Triangle” of governments – enterprises – research institutes in scientific research, technical innovation, and industrial development. He emphasized that Wageningen University & Research has provided educational training, consulting and planning services, technical supports, and conducted researches in China. It has built close cooperation with institutes and organizations in China, to help China with agricultural development, food safety, industry transformation and upgrading, and improvement of ecosystem.

Mr. Kees de Koning, Manager of Dairy Campus of Wageningen University & Research, and Chairman of the Steering Committee of SDDDC, expressed his gratitude to the SDDDC team for holding this event and giving the eight students a platform to share their learnings at this difficult time under the impact of the pandemic. According to the Strategic Development Plan (Version 2.0) of SDDDC, the Center will increase its investment on education of the talents. He urged the students of SDDDC’s programs to connect their academic researches with the practice of China’s dairy industry, and to turn the research results into driving forces for the industrial development. He encouraged them to contribute to the future of the dairy industry in China.

Professor Shengli Li, Director of SDDDC, indicated that this was the fifth “Dairy Talk” SDDDC had held. All of those five forums were very successful, and this fifth one showcased the achievements of international talents-cultivating of SDDDC in the past six years, and attracted great attention from various parties. He also pointed out that China’s dairy industry needs more high potential talents and advanced technologies in its progress. Professor Li advised the eight PhD students participating in this event to devote themselves to the dairy industry. With their deep understanding of the features of the dairy industry in both China and the Netherlands, and their remarkable academic achievements, they would make great contribution to the development of the industry.  

Eight PhDs or PhD students shared their exciting findings of researches in different sectors of the industry.

Haibo Lu, Yuan He, and Xiaomei Yue focused on the upstream end of the dairy industry chain. They talked about their researches and findings respectively on “Genetic Differences of Pregnancy Effects on Milking Features”, “the Use of Cornstalk in Dairy Farms”, and “BVD’s Economic Impact on Dairy Farms”.

By analyzing 14,505 milking record entries of 1,332 fresh cows (each record entry consists of 8 features), PhD student Haibo Lu revealed that the milk yields and milk components of pregnant and non-pregnant milking cows are different. The researcher used 50,000 SNP genetic markers to divide the cows into groups of genetic differences, and found that between groups with a difference in DGAT1 (a vital gene that influences cows’ milking), the pregnancy effects on the milk yields, milk fat percentage, and lactoprotein content are noticeably different. Mid-infrared spectroscopy has been widely adopted to test the milk components, and scientists are now using the milk components analyses and the mid-infrared spectral ranges to diagnose if the cows are pregnant. Haibo Lu’s research shows that the cows’ genetic differences should be taken into consideration when using mid-infrared spectroscopy for pregnancy diagnosis.

Dr. Yuan He’s research on cornstalks demonstrates that the degradation rate of cornstalks is controlled by two major factors: lignin content and lignin components. The fungi selected to process the cornstalks are not able to raise the degradation rate so far. When applying models to evaluate the use of cornstalks in dairy farms, the researcher discovered that using cornstalks of higher NDF degradation rate will generate higher milk yields, raise Nitrogen utilization efficiency, lower the methane emissions per kilogram of milk production, reduce the demand for cornfield, improve land utilization efficiency, decrease feed costs, and eventually increase the dairy farms’ profits.

PhD student Xiaomei Yue’s research focuses on the economic impacts of Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) on dairy farms. BVD causes cows to suffer from diarrhea, fever, immunosuppression, and dysgenesis, which in turn negatively influence the cows’ health conditions and lessen the milk yields, leading to economic losses of the dairy farms. This research analyzed the data of 3,126 dairy farms over the Netherlands from 2007 to 2017, and then developed a BVD monitoring scheme by using the bio-economic models. After the scheme was applied to dairy farms, data shows that BVD-caused losses were significantly reduced. The next stage of the research will be to simulate various BVD control schemes and to determine the most cost-efficient one suitable to dairy farms in China.

The sustainability and circular development of dairy industry are popular research topics in the international dairy field. PhD student Ruozhu Han studies the relationship between cows’ lifespan and the sustainability of economy and environment. The research shows that prolonging cows’ lifespan is a good option to diminish greenhouse gas emission, offset the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from raising calves, and cut down the demands for replacement cows. Meanwhile, longer lifespan of cows is an important contributor to dairy producers’ profits; it means lower calf raising costs and higher average milk yields, but it may lead to an increase of health costs incurred, for example, from reproductive diseases. The research presents practical measures to manage the lifespan of dairy cows that will create a win-win relationship between dairy farm’s economy and environmental protection. The study also evaluates the consumers’ willingness to pay for environmentally friendly dairy products, which underpins the feasibility of dairy producers’ promotion of those products. It provides a potential direction for the government to guide the dairy industry to protect the environment, so that supporting policies may be shaped accordingly.

PhD student Yue Wang’s study shed light on the nutrient cycling of dairy farming in China. By exploring the nutrient flows and the current status of resources utilization in Henan Province, the research proposed several improvement measures and performed scenario analysis respectively. The research results are highly valuable as a reference and/or guidance for government’s policy making, investment, and the sustainable development of dairy industry.

Chunyue Zhang, Ling Xiong, and Yuzheng Yang shared their explorations on the downstream end of the dairy industry from the perspectives of how to choose, and how to ensure the safety of, dairy products.

Dr. Chunyue Zhang probed into the correlation between the raw milk’s quality and the UHT milk’s stability. The research reveals that the instability of UHT milk is closely related to the poor quality of raw milk and improper transportation and/or storage, suggests a few methods to determine the causes of the instability, and proposes solutions to some essential quality control problems in the production of UHT milk.

PhD student Ling Xiong’s research focuses on the influences of heat treat on immunoreactive proteins in milk, particularly the changes of structure and bioactivity of the said proteins in the process. The experimental results illustrate that 75°C/30min heat treat will lead to lower bacteriostatic activity because of the inactivation of lactoferrin, and that 65°C/30min heat treat will significantly damage the anti-allergic active elements of the milk. This study may serve as a reference for refining the heat treat techniques of functional dairy products.

The quality and safety of the various dairy products are not only a common concern in domestic market, but also a global issue. PhD student Yuzheng Yang’s research shed light on the adulteration of milk. The researcher investigated 120 dairy farms, 18 dairy companies, and 4 dairy product retailers in China and the Netherlands, delved into all the links of dairy industry chain, and enquired into the risk of adulteration in dairy supply chain and the test of adulterated matters. This provides a new possibility for ensuring food quality and food safety.


               ① Would you please talk about the dairy cattle breeding technologies in the Netherlands or the features of their breeding system, and their differences from ours in China, from the perspective of genetic progress? Will you apply for patent for the genetic marker you discovered in your research?

Haibo Lu: the major differences lie in the breeding objectives and the data collection.

1.       The Dutch dairy cattle breading system aims to optimize the milk components, namely, to raise the milk protein and milk fat percentage; the milk produced in the Netherlands has the highest rate of protein and fat. The other goals of their breading technologies is to increase cows’ lifetime milk yields and improve their health. The longer the cows stay productive, the more economic benefits the dairy farms may gain.

2.       The dairy industry in the Netherlands has a very long history of dairy cattle breeding and the data collection of breeding is comprehensive and complete. The Netherlands has conducted modern breeding for over 200 years, and the first pedigree of dairy cows was created in Dutch-American trade over a century ago.

I will apply for patent for the genetic marker discovered.

②  Is it right that the degradation of lignin in straw will not make a difference in cows’ roughage intake? Is it acceptable to use straw directly as roughage?

Yuan He: Fungi may be used to degrade the lignin and thus improve the NDF degradation rate. Theoretically, the higher the NDF degradation rate is, the faster the roughage will be emptied from rumen, and this will increase cows’ dry matter intake. A research in the USA shows that for every percentage of rise in NDF degradation rate, the dry matter intake will increase by 0.17 kg, and milk yield by 0.3 kg. However, in reality, using fungi to degrade the lignin will produce a strange odor in the process which is distinctly different from the natural smell of straw. Whether the odor will influence the cows’ feed intake and the milk yields still needs further study.

Straw can be used directly as roughage for heifers and dry cows. These two groups of cows have better absorbing ability, so their body condition can be changed more easily. Adding more roughage to their feed will control the calories the cows absorb, and help them to maintain good body condition. 

 ③  Can you share the data of the production of coarse fodder in the Netherlands?

Yuan He: In the Netherlands, the total productions of corn silage and wheat silage are 8.1 million tons and 1 million tons respectively.

④  How do you think about the phenomenon that the price of domestic infant milk power parallels the imported one?

Yuzheng Yang: Our surveys of small dairy farms in Inner Mongolia show that the feed costs of smaller domestic dairy farms are relatively high. The alfalfa is mostly imported. Other similar factors push up the costs of milk production, so it is essential to develop our own feed producing industry in order to control the production costs of milk. The raw milk prices are different between China and the Netherlands. The purchase price of raw milk is about 30-40 Euro cents/kg in the Netherlands, equal to RMB 2.4-3.2 Yuan/kg, which is significantly lower than the market price of raw milk in China. The unintegrated supply chain and unreasonable resource allocation in the process of milk production also contribute to the high price of domestic milk products. Meanwhile, the milk price also influences the risks of quality control. Because of the high production costs of milk, there is a higher risk of adulteration. Therefore, real-time inspection and quality control are necessary in dairy production.

In the end, James Su, the Secretary-General of SDDDC concluded that this forum was a great event of communication and knowledge exchange between the dairy industry in China and in the Netherlands. The performance of the PhDs and PhD students gave us more confidence in our mechanism of training talents, and in their future contribution to the development of our industry.

James Su also informed the audience that the sixth “Dairy Talk” would be held on May 8th with the theme of “Family and Farm; Job and Joy”. The livestream will connect family farm owners from both China and the Netherlands to discuss the hot topics about sustainable development of dairy industry. Please stay tuned.




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