Congratulations to Oakland View Farms, the winner of the 2017 Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnership Award. This means for the fourth consecutive year, a Land O’Lakes, Inc. member-owner has achieved a notable industry recognition for sustainability.
Since 2011, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® has presented U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards to outstanding dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships for practices that deliver economic, environmental and/or social benefit.
Oakland View is being recognized for implementing the first woodchip bioreactor in partnership with the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) in Maryland—improving both water quality and trust between dairy farmers and environmental advocates. We previously covered this first-of-its-kind partnership on the Land O’Lakes, Inc. blog.
Since their pioneering partnership in 2010, there have been six more partnerships between MRC and the agriculture community, and seven woodchip bioreactors have been installed.
Yet another winner
Congratulations are also in order for Mercer-Vu Farms. This Pennsylvania dairy won second place for its innovative manure management system. The holistic system maximizes the value of the farm’s manure to increase the economic viability of the operation, while better protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Mercer-Vu’s system starts with a flush system that uses recycled waste water to flush manure and sand into a sand separator. It then travels through a centrifuge, which spins rapidly to further separate any liquid out of the solid manure. After the manure has passed through the centrifuge, all of the solids are used for either bedding or compost.
To further protect the water quality in the watershed, all of the farm’s acres are under no-till. By leaving the previous year’s crop residue on the field and planting the next crop directly into the residue, Mercer-Vu increases soil quality and decreases the risk of erosion. To protect the soil and decrease the risk of erosion between plantings, the farm also plants cover crops on all of its acres.
Finally, Mercer-Vu also practices numerous conservation practices, including recently implementing a comprehensive buffer plan. Built in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the plan includes forested buffers to intercept and reduce sediment, nutrients and pesticides from contaminating the surrounding environment, while also providing food and habitat for the wildlife in the area.
The complete manure management system improved the surrounding air and water quality, including eliminating 3,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year (the equivalent of removing 740 cars off the road) and separating 40 percent of the phosphorus out of liquid manure. Also, contrary to other manure management technologies, the system allowed the farm to continue using sand bedding to recapture 95 percent of the sand and ensure the highest level of cow comfort. The system is a cost-effective solution that generated cost-savings and new revenue streams, and also helps create a positive perception of dairy in the community.
Land O’Lakes couldn’t be prouder of all our winners, past and present, and all of our member-owners who are committed to sustainability. After all, since 1921 our co-op has been dedicated to being a responsible partner and good neighbor. It’s just how we do business.