14 Ways Dairy Farmers Protect the Environment

The dairy industry is one of the most regulated industries in agriculture. Farmers take many steps to protect the land, water and air around them. They do this for the well-being of their communities, their cows and their own families. Many farmers go above and beyond the regulations because they want to sustain their farm for generations to come.

Here are a few ways dairy farmers protect the environment:

Dairy farmers keep the air clean.

1. Specially formulated cow diets reduce odor.

2. Air filtrations systems in the barns help keep the air fresh.

3. Waste is stored in lined lagoons that are treated to further reduce odor. 

Dairy farmers reuse waste.

4. Manure is used as fertilizer to improve soil’s productivity.

5. Manure is also composted and used by local nurseries for fertilizer.

6. Some high-tech farms have methane digesters that convert waste into electricity to power the farm and even part of the surrounding community.

Dairy farmers conserve water

7. Manure as fertilizer also increases the soil’s ability to hold water by up to 20 percent, which means farmers need less groundwater to grow crops.

8. Water used to clean the milking parlor is reused to clean barn alleys or walkways, and then again to irrigate fields. 

9. Modern dairy farms use a heat exchanger to partially cool the milk with tubes of cold water. That clean water is used again as drinking water for cows.

Dairy farmers hold to strict environmental standards. 

10. Dairies follow regulations from agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), state departments of agriculture and local governments.

11. Dairy farms must submit and follow detailed manure recycling plans specific to each dairy. These plans are continually updated to reflect new technologies and meet new regulations.

12. Dairy farms must obtain special environmental permits that hold them accountable for waste management practices and the number of animals on their land.

13. State and federal employees regularly perform both scheduled and surprise inspections.

Dairy farmers invest in research.

14. Dairy farmers spend millions of their own dollars to find new ways to protect the natural resources of dairies across the country.

Dairy farmers are constantly finding ways to make sure their have a positive, lasting effect on local communities and the planet as a whole.

By Jordan Manning

Jordan grew up in the cattle industry and uses her love of agriculture every day to help people understand more about their food. She previously worked at the Texas Beef Council. When she's not working, Jordan enjoys cheering for the Aggies. Learn more about Jordan

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