Up to the Challenge

October 31, 2012 11:09 AM


DanSiemersDan Siemers

Newton, Wisc.

Dairying with 2,700 cows, Siemers Holsteins has been operating at the same site for more than 120 years. 



**Extended comments highlighted in blue.

Most of us in production agriculture never thought we would be spending the time, effort or money that it takes to keep up with the regulations we all have to comply with in today’s world.

That doesn’t make it all bad, however, as it is important for all of agriculture to do our part to ensure a bright future, and show the public that the vast majority of farmers take their responsibility seriously. We strive to be good environmental stewards because in most cases it is economically beneficial to do so as well.

Properly putting the right nutrients on the right ground saves big money on fertilizer, and the organic matter helps build soil profile and water-holding capacity. We hire local firms to dredge and inject more than 60 million gallons annually, since they have the proper equipment, manpower and know-how to accomplish the job that everyone, including regulatory people, our agronomist, neighbors and ourselves are happy with.

We are fortunate to have a large percentage of land close to inject, and on farther away fields, we set up a frac tank in the ditch. We fill it with tankers right from the road, and pump and inject this way. This is an upgrade over taking trucks into the field, since we are more accurate on gallons per acre and reducing compaction, while reducing truck repair and downtime. It also keeps mud off the road, and the injection passes the "nose" test.

This summer we added a lagoon to give us more capacity, but more importantly, to do a better job of keeping solids and liquids separate, which should help with cleaner water for our flush flume and sand lanes, and a more consistent solid product to apply on farther away fields. We did an odor study with the Environmental Protection Agency five years ago, before and after the switch to sand with the accompanying flush flume and sand lanes. It came back favorable compared to other dairies, but I see room for improvement. As anyone with flumes knows, when you move manure water, you have more odor than if it is in a storage pond with a crust on it.

While we continue to look for improvements on odor, it is nice that we are in a rural area that embraces animal agriculture. It is up to all of us to put our best environmental foot forward, and to reassure our neighbors, townships and environmental agencies that we are up to the challenge of protecting our water and air quality.

Siemers' Most Recent Prices  
Milk (3.64% bf, 3.19% prt) $21.23/cwt.
Cull cows $55 to $84/cwt.
Springing heifers $1,400 to $1,900/head
Alfalfa hay (milk cow) $250/ton
Cottonseed $340/ton
Ground corn $304/ton
Soybean meal 48% $600/ton


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