Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Every day is Earth Day for Farmers

Since it is Earth Day, let's talk about what it means to farmers.

My brother by his tractor
First of all, farmers celebrate Earth Day every day of the year. It's not a big celebration. It's not a parade. Nothing like that. It's about taking care of the land and environment so it can be passed onto the next generation. And because it's the right thing to do.

Many dairies recycle water several times before it leaves the farm. Fresh cold water is used in the plate cooler to chill the milk before it reaches the bulk tank (large refrigerator for the milk on the farm). The water and milk never come into contact due to the pipes. Water is reused to flush (wash) alleys in the barns and other places too.

Every dairy is different and each one has a system in place for handling manure. Some use a flush system, which uses a stream of water to flush the manure into a place (we called it a flush box, but I'm sure there are other names too) where it is then transported to the manure separator where it is separated into solids and liquids. Others have a automatic scraper that pushes manure into the same place as the flush system. Ours wasn't as fancy. We used the loader with 1/4 of a tire on it (imagine a large tire cut in half horizontally, then cut in half vertically) to push the manure into the flush box where it was then transported to the manure separator. There are more types, but those are just a few examples. Some dairies even have a methane digester, which converts cow manure into electricity.
The point is to keep the manure away from the cows so they are not standing in it and move the manure to a contained location (usually a lagoon...manure pond). Keeping the air and water clean is very important to farmers. After all, most live on or near the farm and they don't want their air and/or water polluted either.

One of our hay fields
For as long as I can remember, Grandpa has been spreading manure on our fields. The manure was scraped from the area near the manger (where the cows eat) and is used to fertilize the fields. The manure helps the grass grow better, which means more feed for the cows when it's warmer and possibly more hay too. Manure contains nitrogen to help grass, corn and other crops grow. This also reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.

Farmers are also careful not to spread manure into any streams or water ways and are careful with any field applications to avoid run off. Usually there is a buffer around the water way to reduce any run off. I'm not the expert on cropping and this is definitely something my brother could tell you a lot more about.

Why is it important to farmers to care for the environment?
  • So the next generation has the same opportunity to farm the land
  • We live on the land too and don't want our environment polluted and/or ruined
  • To preserve natural resources
  • Our livelihood depends on it
  • It's the right thing to do

Happy Earth Day! Be sure to thank a farmer for doing their part to keep the environment in good health. Cheers! 

No comments:

Post a Comment