The four families that founded Prairieland Dairy LLC in 2005 are committed to passing their farm to the next generation. Skyridge Farms, Sunnyside, Wash.
Dan DeGroot, owner of Skyridge Farms, has cultivated an organization that optimizes performance and preserves the environment. Since 2003, DeGroot has improved lighting, added occupancy sensors and installed a programmable logic control system. The management team can automatically control lighting, fans, and soaker and flush systems. By doing so, they maintain optimum performance, reduce costs and keep the herd comfortable. This upgrade alone yields a 20 percent energy savings annually across the five free-stall barns. With composting, Skyridge Farms harvests manure nutrients, provides quality bedding for the herd and eliminates 600 truckloads annually previously used to transport manure.
Dan DeGroot, owner of Skyridge Farms, systematically analyzed the full range of systems and processes required to create a truly sustainable dairy and made well-researched changes to meet his goals. Honorable mention went to McCarty Family Farms in Rexford, Kan. The McCartys have revitalized their rural northwestern Kansas community by providing more than 100 direct jobs, creating a need for additional housing and, in turn, increasing school enrollment. McCarty Family Farms’ unique “cow to cup” partnership with Dannon and the addition of an on-site processing plant has improved economic stability while aggressively reducing their environmental impact. The plant has yielded significant progress toward the dairy’s water-reduction goal. Approximately 59,400 gallons of raw milk from the three dairies is processed through an evaporator every day to remove excess water before being separated into cream and skim milk. Every drop of the water removed during the evaporation process — 39,000 gallons per day — is reused throughout the dairies.
Other winners include:
• Unilever, Henderson, Nev., winner of the Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability award.
• Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese, Gooding, Idaho, winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Energy Efficiency award.
• Green Valley Dairy, Krakow, Wis., winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy award.
• Fulper Family Farmstead, Lambertsville, N.J., honorable mention, Outstanding Achievement in Renewable Energy.