Striving for Carbon Neutrality

August 1st, 2014

A general philosophy for farmers is to leave their farm and land in better shape and better productivity than when they started farming. I am the 7th generation to farm the land at Clovermead Farms and I can proudly say that sustainable farming has been a part of our family’s farming culture.

Over the years, we’ve been working to become increasingly sustainable, with the eventual goal of being a carbon neutral business. For generations, we have been recycling, planting windbreaks around the entire farm, recovering heat, properly managing our manure so we don’t have to buy fertilizer for the fields, and our most recent project towards sustainability has been to build two anaerobic digesters in order to produce heat and electricity.

Anaerobic digesters work like a cow’s stomach. Inside the digester, we mix together manure and off-farm food waste (which would otherwise go to a landfill) that gets heated up and stirred around. This creates methane gas, a natural gas, which in turn creates electricity for the grid. Not only that, but what’s left after this process are solid and liquid by-products that are also used on the farm. The solids serve as a peat-moss-like comfortable bedding for the cows, and the liquids are used as a high quality fertilizer which we spread on our fields and in our garden.

In the next decade, our goal is to produce enough electricity for our farm and 5 more farms our size, all of the heat that we use on our farm and houses and also to produce enough clean gas to power our farm fleet of cars, trucks and tractors. With these technologies and with our ability to divert organic waste from landfills, we will be able to produce over 1,000,000 litres of milk per year and be a carbon neutral business!

Our staff members have a vital role in helping to ensure that our objectives are met. So, we all eat lunch together every day to have discussions and make decisions as a team. All staff are trained on things like animal welfare, cleanliness and biosecurity.

Animal health also goes hand in hand with sustainability. One example of how we keep a close eye on our cows is with activity monitors which we have been using for the past 25 years. It’s a great tool to help us monitor their foot and reproductive health and to keep track of her lifestyle and production.

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to ensure my children and future generations can continue to produce quality milk on this farm that is also beneficial to the environment. Our mission statement is “Clovermead Farms strives to produce the highest quality milk in a sustainable, and profitable way, and enjoy ourselves doing it!!”

DFC congratulates The Whale Family of Clovermead Farms on winning the 2014 Dairy Farm Sustainability Award. To view the press release, click here

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