New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA


Professor, Agricultural Systems, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center

Research Areas: livestock farming, sustainable farming, novel feeds for dairy cows, agri-food system efficiency
PubMed Link
Contact Information:
University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine
Dept of Clinical Studies
New Bolton Center
382 West Street Road

Livestock farming is at a crossroads, its sustainable future challenged by competing interests for limited resources and urgent need to mitigate environmental and climate footprints, amid a rapidly growing global demand for animal protein.
One overlooked, yet viable solution is to leverage the innate ability of animals as nature’s most effective recyclers, able to utilize a wide variety of plant biomass materials as feed resources in producing meats, milk, and eggs.

This project will deploy an innovative sequential fermentation approach to create novel feeds for dairy cows using food waste of fruit and vegetable discards and post-harvest crop residues such as wheat straw and spent mushroom substrates, abundantly available but currently wasted or landfilled.

First, treatment of crop residue biomass will proceed with selected fungal strains able to alter lignin-cellulose complexes through aerobic fermentation to enhance nutrient availability, then combining fruit and vegetable wastes for bacteria-driven anaerobic fermentation to create safe nutritionally enhanced novel feeds (Objective 1). Fermented novel feeds will be incorporated into cow diets; milk production, rumen microbiota and enteric methane emissions determined (Objective 2). Broader impacts resulting from novel feeds partially substituting conventional feed ingredients, in terms of resources spared and greenhouse gas emissions avoided, will be quantitatively assessed (Objective 3). Interwoven with interdisciplinary research are educational activities with classroom learning, research immersion, and hands-on problem-solving and opportunity-finding on selected dairy farms (Objective 4).
This project will generate groundbreaking scientific information to advance technological innovation, and provide evidence-based practical solutions for reducing farming costs and improving agri-food system efficiency. This proposal addresses the priority topics of “environmental synergies of animal production” for reduced “emissions to the atmosphere and hydrosphere” under Program Area Priority A1261 “Inter-Disciplinary Engagement in Animal Systems (IDEAS)”.

Liu, Z., H. Ying, M., Chen, J. Bai, Y. Xue, Y. Yin, W. Batchelor, Y. Yang, Z. Bai, M. Du, Y. Guo, Q. Zhang, Z. Cui, F. Zhang, and Z. Dou Optimizing China’ s maize and soy production for enhanced feed sufficiency and lower N and C footprints Nature Food (accepted) : accepted, 2021.

Wang, XZ, Dou, ZX, Shi, XJ, Zou, CQ, Liu, DY, Wang, ZY, Guan, XL, Sun, YX, Wu, G, Zhang, BG, Li, JL, Liang, B, Tang, L, Jiang, LH, Sun, ZM, Yang, JG, Si, DX, Zhao, H, Liu, B, Zhang, W, Zhang, F, Zhang, FS, Chen, XP Innovative management programme reduces environmental impacts in Chinese vegetable production Nature Food 2: , 2021.

Dou, Z., D. Stefanovski, D. Galligan, M. Lindem, P. Rozin, T. Chen, and A. Chao The COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Household Food Dynamics: A Cross-National Comparison of China and the U.S. 2020 Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems : , 2020.

Pitta, DW, Indugu, N, Toth, JD, Bender, JS, Baker, LD, Hennessy, ML, Vecchiarelli, B, Aceto, H, Dou, ZX The distribution of microbiomes and resistomes across farm environments in conventional and organic dairy herds in Pennsylvania Environmental Microbiome 15: , 2020.

Hao, Y., Y. Yin, Y. Wang, W. Zhang, D. Stefanovski, Z. Cui, Z., and Z. Dou* New maize, wheat, and rice varieties help reduce agricultural N footprints while producing more grain Global Change Biology : , 2019.

Cui, ZL, Zhang, HY, Chen, XP, Zhang, CC, Ma, WQ, Huang, CD, Zhang, WF, Mi, GH, Miao, YX, Li, XL, Gao, Q, Yang, JC, Wang, ZH, Ye, YL, Guo, SW, Lu, JW, Huang, JL, Lv, SH, Sun, YX, Liu, YY, Peng, XL, Ren, J, Li, SQ, Deng, XP, Shi, XJ, Zhang, Q, Yang, ZP, Tang, L, Wei, CZ, Jia, LL, Zhang, JW, He, MR, Tong, YA, Tang, QY, Zhong, XH, Liu, ZH, Cao, N, Kou, CL, Ying, H, Yin, YL, Jiao, XQ, Zhang, QS, Fan, MS, Jiang, RF, Zhang, FS, Dou, ZX Pursuing sustainable productivity with millions of smallholder farmers Nature 555: 363, 2018.

Li, TY, Zhang, WF, Yin, J, Chadwick, D, Norse, D, Lu, YL, Liu, XJ, Chen, XP, Zhang, FS, Powlson, D, Dou, ZX Enhanced-efficiency fertilizers are not a panacea for resolving the nitrogen problem Global Change Biology 24: E511-E521, 2018.

Dou, Z., J. Ferguson, D. Galligan, A. Kelly, S. Finn, R. Giegengack. Assessing food loss across U.S. supply chain and opportunities for reduction Global Food Security 8: 19-26, 2016.

Zhang W., G. Cao, X. Li, H. Zhang, C. Wang, Q. Liu, X. Chen, Z. Cui, J. Shen, R. Jiang, G. Mi, Y. Miao, F. Zhang, Z. Dou Closing yield gaps in China by empowering smallholder farmers. Nature 537: 671-674, 2016.

Dou Z, Ferguson JD, Fiorini J, Toth JD, Alexander SM, Chase LE, Ryan CM, Knowlton KF, Kohn RA, Peterson AB, Sims JT, Wu Z Phosphorus Feeding Levels and Critical Control Points on Dairy Farms J. Dairy Sci. 86: 3787-95, 2003.

W. Zhang, Z. Dou, P. He, X. Ju, D. Powlson, D. Chadwick, D. Norse,Y. Lu, Y. Zhang, L. Wu, X. Chen, K. G. Cassman, and F. Zhang New technologies reduce greenhouse gas emissions from nitrogenous fertilizer in China PNAS 110: 8375-80, 2013.

B.S. Yan'an University, China, 1982

M.S. Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1985

PhD Penn State University, 1993

Penn State University, Department of Agronomy (1993 to 1994)
Post-Doctoral Fellow

University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine (1994 to 1996)
Research Associate