Sustainability in a Small Town
Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Allie Pazera, the 2022 UDIM Communications and Social Media Intern at the United Dairy Industry of Michigan.
Sustainability is something that everyone hears about, but who goes above and beyond with their efforts to keep the Earth clean? The answer is dairy farmers. Throughout Michigan, there are just over 1,000 dairy farms and 97% of them are family-owned and operated. Located in the small rural town of Martin is Clearview Dairy Farm. Founded in the mid-1950s, Brian DeMann is a third-generation farmer who is proud to say that all generations work together in a group effort of running the farm and milking 560 cows.
“Environmental stewardship is important to me because we farmers are community members and parents too, who want the Earth to be a better place for the next generation.” said Brian. “That is why we plant cover crops, properly manage nutrients and are working on becoming more energy efficient.”
Protecting the Soil
You may be asking yourself “What exactly are cover crops?” and trust me, I did not know what they were or the importance of them until writing this blog. Cover crops are planted in the fall months, and remain through the winter, so the soil is not left bare. Planting cover crops, which include wheat, radishes, rye, and more, provides a lot of benefits to the soil. “All of these cover crops produce good root mass and organic matter,” said Brian, “They are essential to helping reduce soil erosion and run off where manure is applied.”
This field was planted on August 1, 2022, and is 90% oats and 10% oilseed radishes.
The main cover crop on Brian’s farm is cereal rye because it can still germinate in shorter, cooler days, providing fast ground cover. Radishes are another common crop planted on Michigan dairy farms that help breakdown compacted soils, allowing for better water infiltration. “As Michiganders, we take pride in our state’s fresh water and want to be part of the force protecting it. That is why our goal is to have very little dirt exposed, especially in our watershed areas as we have many lakes and rivers close to our fields,” Brian added.
Technology is a Teammate
A recent innovation they have been working on is teaming up with Consumers Energy to install the most energy efficient lighting, motors, and technology on the farm. “I am proud of this project because it will allow for a reduction of on-farm energy use, and we are often rebated on the purchases of these.”
Precision agriculture equipment also helps farmers with this effort. “We started years ago with auto-steer helping reduce fuel usage and operator fatigue, to now layering planting and yield maps helping to make variable prescriptions to apply seed and fertilizer,” states Brian. Auto-steer is a system that can be installed on machinery such as tractors to help guide operators along specific tracks with extreme accuracy.
“We were only given one Earth and need it to last and be more productive than ever,” Brian says, “It is the one thing we cannot make more of.” That is why Clearview Dairy Farm goes above and beyond to ensure nutrient-rich dairy foods will be on the plates and in the cups of Michiganders for years to come.
Brian, his wife Jill, and daughter Kinsler are passionate about sharing their farm story with consumers. Follow them on Facebook.
Take a virtual tour of Clearview Dairy Farm!