In a guest editorial for the Tri-Cities Herald, Austin Allred, owner of Royal Dairy in Royal City, WA, shares his thoughts on farm life, sustainability, and family.
Dairy farmers take steps every day to make sure our farms are keeping the environment safe and sustainable. We’re committed to being good neighbors, making a positive contribution to the community, and providing the best possible living conditions for our cows. These farms are our livelihood.
Dairy farmers protect fresh air and clean water with an eye on the next generation. How? Through cow care and technology, farms are working smarter than ever before. Consider that in 1950, 22 million dairy cows produced 117 billion pounds of milk. Today, there only 9 million dairy cows in the country. Yet with better cow nutrition and herd management, dairy production has increased to 205 billion pounds each year. That is a 79% increase in production. With healthier, more contented cows, we reduced the number of animals and still provide enough milk to supply the needs of the U.S. and beyond. Smart farming is good for our planet.
“Worms are key to Biofiltro’s filtration system. They break down the bacteria in our wastewater and produce something we can re-use.”
In Washington, dairy farmers are on the cutting edge of implementing new ways to manage manure nutrients. On my farm, technology allows us to be socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sound. In 2017, we installed a water recycling method called Biofiltro’s BIDA® System that turned my biggest liability, green water, into an asset. It uses 80% less energy than other similar systems and could potentially change the agriculture community. In short, you can say that we invested in hungry worms. This system reinforces my farm’s mission to support families everywhere by efficiently producing an essential, natural ingredient for nutritious living.
Worms are key to Biofiltro’s filtration system. They break down the bacteria in our wastewater and produce something we can re-use — irrigation-grade water for locally-grown crops such as corn and hay. The worms also produce a casting which serves as a high-quality compost for other locally-grown commodities like apples and hops. Many of the Washington-grown fruits and vegetables you enjoy at the grocery have benefited from local dairy nutrients.
Not only has this manure management system had a positive effect on the farm and cows, but it has also given our employees new opportunities. With this new technology we can give them experience with cutting-edge science that will make them more successful in their futures. We can offer employees unprecedented training and advancement opportunities as farming techniques advance with the times. The workers on my team are vital to the success of our farm.
“Someday, I hope to pass my dairy onto my kids. and watch them farm even better than I am today. After all, this farm is my family’s home.”
Royal Dairy’s approach to protecting the environment is only one example of many among Washington’s dairy farms. As a whole, we are group of 400 farmers across the state who are passionate about preserving the land and doing what is best for our cows. Without protecting Washington’s natural resources and ensuring our cows are healthy, we’d have no farm. We’re investing large sums of money to improve our practices and run eco-smart businesses because it makes sense. Dairy farmers, in fact, are Washington’s environmental pioneers.
Personally, when I think about preserving the land, I think of my two children. I go to bed every night knowing that I did what I could to look after our corner of the planet for this next generation. Someday, I hope to pass my dairy onto my kids. and watch them farm even better than I am today. After all, this farm is my family’s home.