Most dairy farmers live and work on their farms everyday, so it’s important for them to protect the land, water and air for their families, their surrounding communities and future generations. All dairy farms must meet standards for manure storage, handling and recycling per guidelines from their state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Caring for the environment is a smart business practice, and helps to ensure healthy cows, happy neighbors and a safe home.
While there are natural odors associated with animal agriculture, dairy farmers work hard to minimize these odors by maintaining clean facilities and managing manure, which is an important nutrient for cropland. Research and development has inspired new practices and innovative technologies to help farmers maintain clean air for everyone.
Dairy cow manure is always put to good use. Some of it is spread on the fields as a natural source of fertilizer. Or it can be composted and sold to local garden stores. Some farmers dry it and use it as a bedding source similar to sawdust. There are even farmers in the U.S. that are able to turn their manure into power through methane digesters, a process that converts manure to energy.
Quality groundwater is essential to dairy farms. Cows need to drink clean water so that they will produce quality milk. Government agencies have rigorous processes for granting permits for dairy farms, for inspecting and testing the water and for recycling manure. In addition, each farm maintains a Nutrient Management Plan which helps ensure that the nutrients go into the crops, not the groundwater.
Modern technology helps farmers boost efficiency and care for their animals and surroundings. Technologies like “methane digesters,” composting and conservation buffers actively work to conserve energy and water and reduce odor and waste, while creating organic fertilizer for local nurseries, neighbors and croplands. It’s all part of making farms sustainable for the future.