Stewards of the Land
Best Management Practices
Most dairy farmers live and work on their farms, so it’s important to them to protect the land, water and air for their animals, families, surrounding communities and future generations. Massachusetts dairy farmers employ a wide range of environmentally sound practices, ranging from basic manure management programs to high-tech systems that convert cow manure to electricity.
- By law, manure must be stored in on-farm, secure facilities to help reduce odor and hasten decomposition.
- Farmers are using responsible and effective manure nutrient management plans in order to protect the public, their cows and the land.
- New methane digester technology converts manure into methane-rich biogas, a renewable fuel that can be used to generate electricity. Farms with this technology may generate more than enough electricity to run their operations, and they can sell the excess energy back to the local utility company.
- Dairy farmers protect the water on and near their farms through a variety of practices to minimize potential runoff from their operations.
- Dairy farmers use water responsibly in their milking parlors and in manure management and storage. For example, wastewater is recycled to flush feed alleys and irrigate fields.
- One benefit of fertilizing the soil with cow manure is to help conserve water. When manure is used as a soil treatment, the water-holding capacity of soil is increased by 20 percent, resulting in reduced groundwater needed to grow crops.
- Dairy farmers protect air quality by following proper manure storage practices and maintaining clean facilities.
- Dairy farmers actively recycle manure to help control odor in the community.
- University researchers, industry manufacturers and other experts continually work with dairy farmers to identify new ways to control odor.