Going Green Makes Sense

October 29, 2013 08:27 PM

Lambert VanderMade

Lambert VanderMade

Sherwood, Ohio

VanderMade Dairy LLC is a family-owned and operated dairy milking 1,400 cows in northern Ohio.

VanderMade will speak at the Elite Producer Business Conference Nov. 14 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Click here for more information. 

You can’t open a paper or magazine without reading an article about green—green energy, green packaging, green production methods, etc.

For most of us in dairy, this should be an easy one as our cows produce milk from mostly home-grown feed, which will then end up as manure that will help grow next year’s crop. You can’t get much greener than that.

However, this does require having a good management system in place on the farm. When we built our dairy nearly 14 years ago, we started with 600 cows, which didn’t require a state permit. Since then, we have gone through the permitting process three times (during each expansion), so we have gotten to know it pretty well.

We are fortunate to have great people with the Ohio Department of Agriculture who truly understand today’s agriculture. The local NRCS and soil and water agencies have been great to work with, as well.

Obtaining a state permit takes quite a bit of work, from weekly facility inspections and manure management to insect and rodent control. When looking at all the requirements, this may seem overwhelming, but the majority is common sense stuff that most of us already do daily.

Being in the Great Lakes watershed greatly increases the need to preserve water quality. Over the years, we have installed several practices to help with this. We installed water control structures on our tile mains, as well as filter strips around the fields along ditches and waterways to reduce nutrient runoff. We also increased our storage capacity for storm water so we can contain nearly 12 months of all runoff water from the entire feed storage slab, as well as dry-stack manure areas and calf hutches. In the summer, this water then gets irrigated through two pivots. Water from the barn roofs gets diverted into grass waterways without contacting the production area.

Taking good care of the environment should be every dairy’s focus, regardless of size and location. Some of us deal with more air regulations, while water quality is more crucial for others. Regulations won’t go away, and some of them aren’t necessarily all bad, either. As an industry, if we take a proactive approach toward environmental issues, we’re more likely to have workable regulations versus waiting for someone 1,000 miles away to create a rule that makes no sense.

VanderMade’s recent prices

$21.00 (3.8 bf, 3.1 prt)

Cull cows (dressed)

Springing heifers

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)


Ground corn

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