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A Serious Responsibility

01:35AM Nov 01, 2011

CarlsonsCarlson Dairy, LLP

(Curtney & Louise Carlson, Chad & Kindra Carlson, Carl & Kellie Carlson)

Willmar, Minn.
The Carlsons milk 950 cows on a 120-year-old family farm.



As dairy farmers, our family has always had a healthy respect for our natural resources. We strive to be good environmental stewards like most dairy farmers do, regardless of state and federal laws requiring it. Carlson Dairy is our place of business, but, more importantly, it is our home and our legacy. As such, we take our responsibility to the environment very seriously.

We do our best to recycle as much as we can, including water. Our plate cooler uses 25 gal. to 30 gal. of water per minute to cool our milk. This water is captured and re-used to wash down the parlor between shifts and to provide 100% of the water to our freestall barn cows. Our manure system also relies on recycled water to continually carry manure and sand out of the barn so that the sand can be recaptured through our sand separation lanes and be re-used for bedding.

We are careful to protect our water supply. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has strict guidelines to help us manage our manure storage and application practices. We have a five-pond manure storage system. From these lagoons, liquid manure is directly injected to our fields each fall with a drag-hose system to prevent runoff. We try to incorporate any solid manure within
24 hours for the same reason. In addition, a safe distance is maintained from water sources and intakes when manure is spread or injected.

Since we do have access to our own manure, we use very little, if any, commercial fertilizer. To avoid overfertilizing, we utilize an agronomist from a local co-op to help us determine the correct application rates based on manure and soil analyses, thereby reducing the risk of pollutants entering the water system.

Another advantage we’ve seen with using cow manure rather than commercial fertilizer is the organic matter and water-holding capacity of the soil is greatly increased. This leads to increased water conservation and reduces the groundwater needed to grow our crops.

Honestly, the topic of air quality hasn’t been much of an issue in our area. We do our best to protect air quality by following proper manure storage practices and maintaining clean facilities. We’ve also started experimenting with a microbial agent used in lagoon systems to help reduce odor.

Thankfully, we also still live in a very traditional Midwestern, rural Minnesota community. As such, most of our neighbors are still farmers themselves and have an appreciation for animal agriculture (even on days when we’re emptying the lagoons). We still work very hard to maintain favorable relationships with these neighbors and others in our community.

This summer we hosted a "Summer Celebration" at our farm for neighbors, business partners and friends of the dairy. It included a hog roast, farm tours and an evening of fun and fellowship. About 160 people attended. Building these relationships goes a long way to show we
truly are committed to the well-being of our community and environment.


Carlsons' October Prices  
Milk (3.78% bf, 3.17% prt) $21.85/cwt.
Cull cows $63/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,750/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $170/ton
(160 RFV)
Dry beet pulp $150/ton
Ground dry corn $240/ton
Canola $193/ton