Dairy farmers at forefront in caring for the environment

Staff Writer
The Steuben Courier Advocate

Using the latest scientific research, farmers boost efficiency and take care of their animals and surroundings. Technologies like "digesters" reduce manure odor, energy-saving methods are used for milking and cooling the milk, and manure recycling plans protect soil and water resources. Even something as simple as upgrading lighting can help conserve lots of energy. It’s all part of making farms sustainable for the future.

Being Green

There is an old adage among farmers, “We live as if we’ll die tomorrow, farm as if we’ll live forever.” Taking good care of the land helps ensure healthy cows…and a healthy business. Most importantly, it sustains quality of life and makes the world a better place for future generations.

Fresh Air for Everyone

Clean air is important to everyone, including farm families. Farmers protect air quality by keeping barns clean and using special manure storage facilities that help control odors.

Research and development has inspired new practices and innovative technologies to improve manure and odor management.

For example, dairy nutritionists can formulate diets for cows that reduce the odor of manure. Other technologies such as air filtration systems in barns, odor-reducing additives for manure storage facilities and even methane digesters, which use manure to produce electricity, are being incorporated in many dairy operations.

Dairies turn cow manure into the nation’s most sought-after commodity – energy – while reducing odor along the way.

Recycling Has Lasting Effects

Recycling comes naturally to dairy farmers.

Cow manure is used as an organic fertilizer for cropland and for compost, which is used by local nurseries and by neighbors for their gardens. This greatly reduces the use of commercial fertilizers, which are often made from fossil fuels.

The water used on farms is recycled several times a day to wash barn alleys and irrigate the fields. And, applying recycled manure to the crops helps increase the water-holding capacity of the soil, which reduces the need for irrigation in the first place.

Plentiful Clean Water

Dairy cows need to drink plenty of clean water to stay healthy and produce quality milk, so farmers take water protection and conservation practices seriously.

The proper recycling of cow manure plays a central role in protecting nearby lakes, rivers and streams.

Farmers store manure and spread it on their crop fields according to a Nutrient Management Plan that takes into account the types of soil found on the farm, the terrain of the fields and the amount of nutrients needed by the crops. Other water protection measures include building fences along streams and planting trees along rivers.

Rainy days are welcomed as dairy farmers capture the precious commodity in holding ponds so they can put it to good use.

Article courtesy of www. DairyFarmingToday.org