Did you know that Connecticut milk not only provides 13 essential nutrients in every glass, but it also serves up a commitment to environmental sustainability? Dairy farmers have long been responsible stewards of their land and thanks to many advancements in technology and in daily farming practices, it’s more sustainable than ever to produce a gallon of milk.
The dairy industry has a Net Zero Initiative, which has as a goal to become carbon neutral or better by 2050, as well as make significant improvements in water from field to farmgate through new technologies and practices in feed production, cow care, energy efficiency, and manure management.
Here are just 5 examples of how dairy farms in Connecticut are practicing sustainability as part of their commitment to the planet.
Waste is not wasted on many of Connecticut’s dairy farms, especially when it comes to manure. Manure is separated into liquid and solid components and then it can be reused in different ways. For example, those solid components can be transformed into bedding for cows, giving them a comfortable place to rest and sleep. In addition, the manure can be used to fertilize fields and crops.
Reducing methane and other emissions
Greenhouse gas reduction is at the forefront of ways to protect the environment. Some dairy farms have invested in anaerobic digesters, which are large, sealed tanks where micro-organisms break down manure and other organic material and capture the biogases emitted. These biogases can then be turned it into renewable energy like electricity to power the dairy farm, into heat, or renewable natural gas.
Today, it takes about 30 percent less water to produce a gallon of milk than it did 10 years ago, and 65 percent less water than it did 70 years ago. Some farms reuse the water used to cool milk as drinking water for their cows, others collect rainwater and use it to use to clean machinery and stalls.
With their long roofs, cow barns offer an ideal place to add solar panels and many Connecticut dairy farms are benefiting from this renewable source of energy. In addition to being a greener energy option than electricity, using solar power helps farmers save on their energy bills and thus, lower costs.
Taking care of the land is another way dairy farms are practicing sustainability. Dairy farmers reduce soil erosion and maintain the quality of their soil for the future by using cover crops. Cover cropping is the process of using plants that are not harvested but rather to provide soil protection. A cover crop reduces the impact of rain on the soil and run off, which can deplete valuable nutrients from the soil.
So, next time you’re enjoying a glass of milk, cheese, or yogurt, know that it was produced with less impact on the land, air, and water than ever before. Connecticut dairy farmers care for more than 66,000 acres of land in our state and are committed to making further progress so that dairy continues to be part of the climate solution.