Reduce and Recycle

October 29, 2013 09:34 PM

Nick Vande Weerd

Nick Vande Weerd
Brookings, S.D.

The Vande Weerd family is majority owner and manager of Pleasant Dutch Dairy, which milks 1,400 Holsteins.

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

Taking care of the environment needs to be a top priority in agriculture. We need to ensure that scarce resources are well preserved. Changing methods of farming and implementing technology can help conserve resources.

To reduce water usage, we changed clean-up procedures in our parlor. In addition, we added a plate cooler, and we re-use water that passes through the plate cooler. The dairy industry has made amazing efficiency strides in the last 40 years. These efficiencies have reduced the amount of pollution created by the dairy industry.

Our parlor and holding pen were originally built to be cleaned by a flush system. The flush system used large amounts of water during each flush. To reduce water usage, it was decided that the parlor and holding pen would be cleaned with a high-pressure hose.

Using the high-pressure hose does take slightly more time than the flush system, but it saves thousands of gallons of water per cleanup. Not only do we save water, but we save space in our lagoons.

Plate coolers have been around in the dairy industry for many years. They are a great way to reduce energy needs for a dairy. We added one to our system and were immediately happy with the results. We directly load our milk into tankers, and the plate cooler has reduced the number of compressors that run to cool our milk from three to around one and a half in the summer. Not only did we reduce energy costs, but we are also able to reuse the water.

The dairy industry in the U.S. has steadily become more efficient. Production per cow has nearly tripled in the last 45 years. That, in turn, has caused the dairy herd to decrease in size while increasing total U.S. milk production. The decrease in herd size reduces the amount of resources needed to maintain the dairy herd. In addition, the total amount of methane produced per gallon of gallon of milk has been drastically reduced.

Not using our flush system to flush our parlor and holding pen reduced the amount of water we used on a daily basis. Another way we have saved resources has been by adding a plate cooler to our milking system. It has reduced energy usage, and we are able to re-use the water. Furthermore, as a dairy industry, we have steadily reduced resources needed and methane produced per gallon of milk.

Vande Weerd’s recent prices

$20.30 (3.5 bf, 3.05 prt)

Cull cows

Springing heifers

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)


Ground corn

Soybean meal

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