Concern for the health of our planet is on the rise and families are buying foods without pesticides, recycling, reducing waste and practicing other earth-friendly behaviors. We are also much more aware that, just as the foods we eat nourish our bodies, sustainably grown food nurtures the earth. And Arps Dairy farmers are constantly making adapting their farm practices to become increasingly sustainable.
Arps Dairy farmers care a great deal about the environment and the long-term sustainability of their farms and their communities. Most Arps Dairy farmers hope to one day pass their farms on to their children, just as many of their parents and grandparents have done for them, so they want to make sure the land, water and air are protected and preserved for future generations. It is for this reason that Arps Dairy farmers make steps to better their environment, which pays dividends to our local and global environment.
Some of the steps taken by our Arps Dairy farmers to improve their environmental footprint include:
- While many think of manure as waste, Arps Dairy farmers see it as a valuable resource. On a dairy farm, manure is a natural fertilizer that enriches the soil and increases its water holding capacity. Spreading manure on the field decreases a farm’s need for synthetic fertilizers and reduces the use of groundwater to grow crops (which much of those crops will then be turned back into food for the cow). In a sense, cows are their own recyclers – while a cow eats about one acre of forage per year, its manure provides the fertilizer for that acre.
- Water is an important natural resource, and Arps Dairy farmers make an extensive effort to recycle the water used throughout their farming processes by collecting rain water from barns for irrigation, reusing milk-cooling water as cow drinking water and reusing water used to clean milking parlors and feed alleys to irrigate the fields.
And in addition to current efforts, as mentioned earlier, Arps Dairy farmers are consistently adopting to changing technology to improve their environmental impact. Such future possibilities include:
Generating Renewable Energy
- We usually associate greenhouse gases with carbon dioxide – but methane is actually more damaging to the atmosphere. Cattle are significant producers of methane. New technologies enable dairy farmers to use environmentally harmful gases, like methane from manure, as a renewable energy source that would power not only their farm, but could be tapped back into the power grid to power neighboring homes as well. Machines called anaerobic manure digesters convert manure into biogas, which generates energy, reduces feedlot odors and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. In the process, methane digesters also compost manure and provide an antibacterial bedding source similar to sawdust that helps limit the spread of harmful microorganisms and helps keep cattle healthy.