The Kohn laboratory develops and uses mathematical modeling for basic and applied research in animal nutrition. Past projects have ranged from animal nutrient metabolism to whole-farm nutrient cycling and life-cycle analysis. Models of rumen fermentation and farm nutrient cycling have recently been applied to biofuel production systems that produce methane, hydrogen or ethanol from plant fiber using anaerobic digestion and fermentation.
The goal of our research has been to decrease pollution of air and water resources from animal agriculture. Mathematical models are used to track the flow of nutrients on farms and identify critical control points. Animal nutrition and feeding were identified as critical control points for reducing losses of nitrogen, phosphorus and methane from farms. Projects have focused on developing tools to improve dairy cattle feeding such as feed and milk analysis methods, and ration evaluation. Mathematical models have been published on whole-farm nutrient flows, animal nutrition, and rumen function. Some of these models have been adapted to study options for biofuel production through anaerobic digestion and fermentation.