Michel Wattiaux


Ph.D., Dairy Science, UW-Madison;
B.S., M.S., Universite Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Departments & Organizations

Department of Dairy Science, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences;
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Research Focus

Environmental impact of dairy production, especially gaseous emissions



Michel Waittiaux is a professor of dairy systems management with the Dairy Science Department. His teaching and research focuses on the improvement of dairy farm management in a way that fosters the social, economical and environmental soundness of production systems.

His classes include Agriculture in Emerging Economies: Dairying in Mexico, which includes an end-of-summer, two-week field program in Mexico, and Effective Teaching in International — Science and Engineering— Classrooms, a course that challenges doctoral candidates to think of ways to take advantage of cultural and national diversity as an asset rather than an impediment to creating a rich learning environment for all students in the classroom.

Wattiaux’s research program focuses on the environmental impact of dairy production with an emphasis on undesirable gaseous emissions to the atmosphere known to have negative impacts on human heath and balance of natural ecosystems (ammonia) or to contribute to climate change (methane). He seeks to find “win-win” situations, making farms more economically profitable (reducing feed costs) and simultaneously more environmentally friendly (reduction in undesirable emissions).

He and his research collaborators have studied the effects of dietary composition on manure ammonia emission and enteric methane emission from dairy cattle. Wattiaux has received USDA International Science and Education (ISE) grants to foster collaboration with Mexican and Canadian partners to develop research tools to evaluate Dairy Agro-ecosystems Sustainability.

Originally from a dairy farm in Belgium, Wattiaux was raised with a strong commitment to making the family farm profitable. After earning a bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences in Belgium, he came to the U.S. on an International Four-H Youth Exchange and lived on farms throughout the country.

He earned his doctoral degree in dairy science at UW and worked with the Babcock Institute for international Dairy Research and Development, where he authored and co-authored four dairy management-related books in a series of Technical Dairy Guides. These books are now available in seven languages and have been distributed in more than 80 countries around the world. He co-directed the Institute from 1996 until May 2000.

Read more:

Dissolving Borders: Course puts distances aside to explore the dairy industries in Wisconsin and Mexico