With less land and resources to utilize than ever before, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy made a point to recognize dairy farmers, businesses and partnerships across the country for their conservation efforts.
From water quality to recycling to manure management, various topics were covered rewarding innovative conservation efforts within the dairy industry. The seventh annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards ceremony recognized these dairy farms and businesses in Lisle, Illinois, on May 16. Judges from within the dairy industry based their decision on scalability, replicability and innovation to select six overall winners.
Reinford Farms of Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, was just one of the three dairies to receive the Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability award.
Using new technology, the farm made a large impact on their community and environment when they made the decision to start collecting food waste from their area’s grocery stores and food manufactures 10 years ago. This food, however, would often come with packaging, causing problems for their farm’s digester.
To resolve this issue, the farm installed a depackager to help remove the food waste from undigestible packaging.
Utilizing manure from their 630 cow dairy along with this food waste has helped create enough energy to heat all of the farm’s hot water and dry their corn, reducing their carbon footprint. With this implementation in place, the farm can now process 6,000 to 12,000 gallons of food waste each day with a total of 35,000 tons of waste kept out of landfills over the past decade.
Two additional dairies were also recognized for their sustainability efforts.
E-Z Acres of Homer, New York, has improved their local water supply by managing fertilizer use and reducing phosphorous application by 30%. Working with worms has allowed Royal Dairy of Royal City, Washington, to reduce odors, greenhouse gas emissions and recycle thousands of gallons of water on their 5,000-cow dairy.
“As a dairy farmer, I’m extremely proud of the innovation these award winners have demonstrated across the dairy community,” said Marilyn Hershey, assistant judge, Pennsylvania dairy farmer and chair of the Dairy Management Inc. board of directors. “These progressive practices highlight the dairy industry’s commitment to improving the land, caring for the animals, and doing more with less.”
Using cow manure as a peat moss replacement helped Magic Dirt of Little Rock, Arkansas, win the Outstanding Supply Chain Collaboration award.
Working with Walmart, the company developed a unique potting soil with 100% sustainable ingredients to help reduce pollution and generate renewable energy. 10 cu ft of Magic Dirt uses manure from local dairy to keep approximately 1/3 ton of greenhouse gas out of the environment.
The peat moss replacement is now distributed across 43 states and is a high demand sustainable gardening product.
Additional business and partnership winners include The Kroger Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Tillamook County Creamery Association from Portland, Oregon. The creamery’s employees have done their part by volunteering to help make a positive impact on housing, education and hunger across the U.S. The Kroger Co. plans to help eliminate waste by 2020 and end hunger in its communities by 2025 with their “Zero Hunger | Zero Waste” program.
For more on this, click here to learn about this year’s winners.