Did you know dairy farmers like to call themselves the original environmentalists? Every year, people around the world celebrate Earth Day on April 22, but dairy farmers celebrate this holiday every day by using sustainable farming practices. Dairy farmers use these practices to benefit their farm and the earth.
From 1944 to 2006, dairy farmers reduced their carbon footprint by 63 percent. The majority of farmers use manure retention ponds to repurpose and reuse on their land. Applying the manure back to the land keeps the soil fertile and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizer.Surprisingly, farmers also recycle water. They use fresh water to cool the cow’s milk through plate chillers. After that, the water is used for cleaning purposes. Then the water is sent to a lagoon to create a natural liquid fertilizer for crops.
Did you know cows eat what humans can’t? Since they have four compartments in their stomach, they are able to digest foods such as orange pulp, cotton seeds, and corn stalks. These foods are used to make dairy cows’ feed, which reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. Thanks to advancements in technology, today’s farmers can produce one gallon of milk using 75 percent less manure waste than 60 years ago. Farmers also use 65 percent less water and 90 percent less land. Through this technological innovation and improved farming techniques, dairy farmers across America plan to further reduce their carbon footprint by 25% by 2020. According to Michigan Technological University, the dairy sector only accounts for two percent of greenhouse gases in the United States. That’s the lowest of any country’s dairy industry worldwide!
It makes sense for farmers to use sustainable practices on their farms. Farmers rely on the earth for their livelihood and want to pass it along to their children, so they make caring for and respecting the planet a priority. Using sustainable practices reduces operation costs and ensures a healthy Earth for the generations of dairy farmers to come.
As the Native Americans said, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”