Born in California, honored by the American Dairy Association

California continues to create success stories.

The American Dairy Association (ADSA) will hold a symposium in honor of California-born David Mertens. On Tuesday, ADSA will make four presentations about his work during its annual meeting in Kansas City.

While working for the US Department of Agriculture and while working in the field, Mertens achieved many achievements. His work in the development of analytical methods for determining the minimum fiber requirements for dairy cows; dietary fiber in ruminants (ungulates such as cows); mathematical modeling of digestion; and the creation of a system for designing optimal rations for dairy cows with dietary fiber brought him recognition.

Born in Jefferson City, Mertens spent much of his young life in California. As a senior in high school in California, he originally planned to partner with his father for dairy operations on their family farm. However, after passing his SAT exam, he received a scholarship and was encouraged by his teacher of professional agriculture to pursue higher education.

Mertens began studying dairy science at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he won a scholarship to support two years of graduate work. Although he was initially hesitant to continue his education, his professor insisted that he pursue a doctorate at Cornell University. After earning his degree in nutrition, with minors in biochemistry and biophysics, he continued to teach at Iowa State University and the University of Georgia.

“Eventually (my professor) convinced me, and I had the opportunity to work with a well-known researcher in the chemistry of feed analysis and feed evaluation,” Mertens said. “I went to Cornell and later spent 10 years teaching and researching. Then I came to the USDA and did full-time research for the rest of my career. That’s how it all happened.

He said he was most proud of the development of the “amylase-treated NDF method (natural detergent, fiber), which measures fiber and fodder reproducible for analytical laboratories. It is recognized as an international standard for measuring fiber in dairy cow feed.

A statement sent to the Democrat explained that the method was also approved by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists. This organization ensures food safety and their impact on health by working with government, industry and

Given his success, the American Dairy Association elected him a member of the organization for “teaching and research throughout his life, a recognition given to less than 0.2 percent of the association’s members.”

“Using NDF both to evaluate feed and to encourage farmers to grow and collect better quality feed juices has led to significant improvements in the production and health of dairy cows,” Mertens said. “I (also) worked for a long time in the mid-1980s, trying to show farmers how they can use fiber to formulate better diets for dairy cows. Both were very easily accepted by farmers and the nutritionist who helped them assemble their rations. And that’s probably the thing that had the biggest impact. “

Mertens said that was what motivated him the most in his research. He explained that he has always loved learning new things, whether theoretical or basic sciences. He has always wanted to make sure that whatever works will have an application to improve the production and health of dairy cows so that they can produce more high-quality human food.

However, all this is only a small part of what he achieved after receiving his doctorate in 1973. The statement sent to the Democrat states that Mertens has published more than 150 scientific articles, co-authored five chapters in scientific and technical books and has traveled to countries such as France, Italy, Sicily, Padua and Denmark for his research in fiber milling and computer modeling.

The ADSA Symposium, in recognition of Mertens, will be called the “Symposium on Coexistence of Ruminants / Feed and Pastures – The Role of Fiber Analysis and Digestibility in Feed Evaluation and Diet Formulation”.

The four presentations will be Physically effective NDF, physical characteristics of feed and passage rates “;” Mathematical modeling of digestion and intake of ruminants and the importance of fiber kinetics “;” Methods of fiber and in vitro, analytical variations and contribution to analysis of feed “; and” Teaching, research and application of Mertens’ NDF in feed evaluation and rationing. “

As long as Dr. Mertens no longer lives in California, he will always acknowledge the positive influence he has had that prompted him to go into science.

“I have to say that growing up on a dairy farm in California, Missouri, I never expected to be able to do the things I do,” Mertens said. “But I have to say that I had three outstanding teachers who had a huge impact on my life and what I did. And one of them was actually (a professional agricultural teacher) at a high school in California. They pushed me a little further than I ever expected to go and I was really interested in things and the science of things and how we can use what we’ve learned to help dairy farmers. “

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