How Dairy Farmers Care for the Land

April 20th, 2018

On April 22, we celebrate Earth Day by recognizing the importance that a healthy earth plays in maintaining a healthy dairy farm. In Canada, we are fortunate to have fertile lands to provide our nation with nutritious, delicious, and safe food products. And, as a dairy farmer and a proud Canadian, I appreciate the bounty of the land I live and farm in.

As both a dairy farmer and the Chair of the environment committee within DFC’s on-farm customer assurance program, proAction®, I take particular interest in protecting and preserving the land we have. Living in PEI and close to the coast, we have some unique considerations including soil erosion; we take these seriously, and leave riparian and grass buffer zones between the land and sea to reduce soil and nutrient losses into the water. Our farm has installed solar panels and a windmill to harness energy from the sun and air, reducing our footprint.

I’m not alone. I have met dairy farmers across the country who are deeply attached to their land too. To maintain and improve the land they farm, farmers employ various management practices that work for their land, such as crop rotation, zero tillage, precision agriculture to get soil nutrients to plants and minimizing runoff and leaching. A number have also installed solar panels, windmills, and a few have even installed biodigesters to capture and produce renewable energy and to offset some of the use of non-renewable energy. Farmers manage wetlands to enhance biodiversity and to live in harmony with the nature that surrounds them. As Canadian dairy farmers, we are proud that our carbon footprint continues to decrease, having reduced by 28% on a per litre of milk basis between 1990 and 2015.

Farmers have long been recognized as stewards of the land. I look forward to seeing this commitment to the land grow, as we continue to develop the environment module of our on-farm assurance program. This program verifies our farm practices, so we can better measure our ongoing progress towards improving dairy farming’s sustainability record.

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