Sustainable Farming Helps Keep our Lakes Great
White sand beaches, miles of shoreline and fresh water that stretches to the horizon: if you live in Michigan, you know the Great Lakes are one of our most valuable resources.
Jim and Pam Reid, owners of Reid Dairy Farm in Jeddo, MI—just four miles from Lake Huron, one of the five Great Lakes —know this too. While caring for about 230 dairy cows and over 1,000 acres of alfalfa, corn, wheat and soybeans, they are taking careful steps to protect the fourth largest body of fresh water on the planet.
Jim and Pam Reid
Keeping Water Clean
No one wants anything running into the water they enjoy for boating and swimming and the Reids do their part to make sure nutrients and sediment don’t runoff into Lake Huron, Detroit’s main water source.
For example, they test the soil for nutrient composition before applying fertilizer to make sure they use the right amount , regardless if it is nutrient-rich manure or commercial fertilizers. When they do apply the nutrients, they choose a dry time of year when it can soak into the ground and not run off.
To reduce soil erosion, they practice crop rotation, planting different crops in their fields to vary the effect on the soil. . They use cover crops, such as oats and radishes, after the harvest in the fall. These types of crops help loosen the soil (especially radishes, which have lots of roots) and keep soil microbes active, which helps the soil by increasing water-holding capacity. By spring, the cover crop has died off, leaving the nutrients in the soil.
Jim leads a tour of his farm with Detroit Public Schools students.
Let the Sun Shine!
The family has also invested in harnessing solar power by installing 96 solar panels on their freestall barn. On a sunny day, they produce more than enough power for the farm. Extra power is sold back to the power company. Overall, these solar panels reduce the farms electricity costs by about 30%.
The Reid’s goal is simple: discover and reclaim every lost nutrient, kilowatt of energy, and conservation practice to create a better, more sustainable future for their farm, community and the planet.
Cows, land, water – they all coexist together on this family farm.
Jim Reid is a leader in the dairy community. He is the former President of UDIM, having served in various roles on the Board for over 20 years. He continues to serve dairy farmers at the National level.