(Originally Published February 5, 2014)
Though this may only be a 12 credit semester, it has proven to be one of my busiest yet. All but one of my classes are discussion based and require readings, papers and prepared debate material. The main idea of these courses are based around the many similar questions. One being, “How can we feed a world of 9 billion people without destroying the environment?”
I’m all about feeding the world and the new technology we’ve created to do so. However, I am NOT all about people criticizing farmers for not caring for their land. As said by a very good friend and former colleague Kelcie Degenfelder, “Farmers are the best stewardess to the land! In order to prosper the farmer needs to take care of the land.”
Unfortunately, not all people like to think that. After a pretty heated debated in an International Agriculture class on this topic, an ERM (Environmental Resource Management) major approached me and said,
“I like the environment and you like cows and farms… can we be friends?”
As silly as something like that sounds, it gave me the idea for this “More than a Farmer” idea. I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl’s question while I was on a field trip last Saturday to learn about a biodigester on a nearby dairy farm.
Schrack Farms, located in Loganton, PA, runs a biodigester off of his herd of 1,000 milking cows and around 400-500 dry cows and heifers. For the past 7 years, his biodigester has run at a 99% usage rate, fueling the entire farm, only needing half of the electricity produced. The remaining 50% is then sold back to the grid and used by the surrounding towns and communities.
These cows and heifers are producing manure and waste that is then pumped into a biodigester, and the burning of the methane gas creates electricity. The leftover waste is put to good use as well. The solid matter is dried and used as bedding for the cows and the liquid left over is used on fields as a fertilizer for the soil and its crops.
All during the visit, our tour guide, manager and partial owner of Schrack Farms, made it clear many times that he is not only a farmer, but a stewardess to the land as well. Without adequate soil, he has no farm. So, by implementing this biodigester he has turned waste into a number of beneficial solutions throughout his entire farm, from his cows to his crops.
My point is for you to remember…
We are farmers. We are environmentalists. We are making a difference. Poop happens, and sometimes… poop is excellent.