By Katie Spring, Outreach & Content Specialist at NE-DBIC
The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center (NE-DBIC), hosted at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, provides support to dairy businesses through projects that promote the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products.
The Northeast Dairy Business Innovation is excited to announce 24 recipients of the Dairy Farm Innovation & Alternative Management Grant.
With a focus on climate and community-forward production strategies, this grant offers funds for farmers to implement projects that enhance the resilience of our Northeast regional food system.
Awards ranged from $16,000 to $75,000, with a total funding of $1,076,940.
The grantees include farmers in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Farm innovation projects run the gamut from studying and promoting extended lactation on goat dairy farms, to creating a silvopasture grazing system, to managing herds with geofencing.
Four examples across the region show the breadth of projects:
In New York, Lee Hennessy of Moxie Ridge Farm is developing skills-based digital classes on small ruminant dairy farming to support workforce development, with a particular emphasis on outreach and engagement with the LGBTQ+ community.
In Massachusetts, Gould Maple Farm is replacing a diesel skid-steer with electric robotic manure scrapers in their cow dairy barn to improve barn cleanliness, positively impact animal health, and decrease fuel use and emissions. In addition to this project, they’re installing solar panels to create a closed-loop energy system on the farm.
In Vermont, two farms participating in NE-DBIC Dairy Cohorts are implementing new technologies:
Molly Brook Farm is purchasing a collar monitoring system for their organic grazing herd of 85 cows to increase their cow pregnancy rates and their ability to detect illness early. This is expected to both increase milk production per cow and reduce culls due to reproductive issues.
Richville Farm, a woman-owned 870 cow dairy, has a four-pronged improvement project that includes purchasing and installing a New Holland Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) Crop Analysis System on their existing harvest equipment, which will generate real-time data on feed quality, yield, and moisture. They’ll also install feed testing equipment to reduce feed loss and spoilage, add rumination monitoring collars on their cows, and purchase an ultrasound machine to support their embryo and in-vitro fertilization services.
These projects represent investment in innovative and alternative management systems across the Northeast. Look for updates here on our blog to learn more about how the grants are benefiting dairy farms as they get underway.
Farm Innovation & Alternative Mangement Grantees:
Allendale Farm of VT will purchase and install a New Holland Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) Crop Analysis System on their existing chopper. The technology will generate real-time data regarding feed quality, yield, and moisture.
Balfour Farm of ME will lease a BaumalightMP572 tractor mounted brush mulcher to develop and support a ten-acre silvopasture pasture system that will provide shade and improved climate resilience on their pasture-based dairy farm.
Barstow's Longview Farm of MA will purchase and install two Lely Vector feed robots. This equipment will have impacts to animal health, milk production, and labor efficiencies.
Blue Ledge Farm of VT will study and implement extended lactation milking for dairy goats.
Bo’ Lait Farm of ME will purchase equipment and supplies to begin production of homegrown corn silage and improve their soil fertility with organic certified amendments and diversification of forage species.
Brink Family Farm of NY will purchase a robotic feed pusher, automated cow brushes, and activity/rumination collars to improve animal welfare, increase milk production, and provide educational opportunities.
Brookfield Farm of NH will purchase a K Two Duo 900-9T vertical beater manure spreader. This spreader will enable the Grantee to more effectively handle manure and waste from their bedded pack barn in addition to spreading other soil amendments.
Center Farm of VT will purchase and install a New Holland Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) Crop Analysis System on their existing chopper. The technology will generate real-time data regarding feed quality, yield, and moisture.
Center for an Agricultural Economy of VT will support a group of seven (7) female identifying, grass-based dairy farmers in designing and implementing an expansion to their summer forage production and utilization through innovative seeding techniques and pasture/animal management equipment.
Conant’s Riverside Farms of VT will purchase and install SCR activity monitoring collars for the herd of mature dairy cows. The technology will generate real-time data regarding animal health and reproduction. Grantee will also collaborate with the University of Vermont’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (UVM-CALS) to develop and launch a short-term internship program at Grantee’s farm.
Cozy Valley Farm of PA will purchase and install a New Holland Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) Crop Analysis System on their existing chopper. The technology will generate real-time data regarding feed quality, yield, and moisture.
Crosswinds Farm & Creamery of NY will purchase and utilize Smaxtec rumen bolus system to monitor animal health and reproduction. Data from the technology will be used to improve herd health and reproductive success rates.
Don-Sim Farm of VT will purchase an ag feed bagger to increase their homegrown feed quality and reduce dependence on imported feeds. The ag bagger will be shared with at least one neighboring farmer to provide additional opportunity for feed improvement gains and equipment use efficiencies.
Four Girls Dairy of VT purchase and install Lely Juno robotic feed pusher. The robot will ensure consistent access to feed for Grantee’s dairy cows.
Gould Maple Farm of MA will purchase and install Lely Discovery robotic manure scrapers in their dairy barn to improve barn cleanliness, positively impact animal health, and decrease fuel use and emissions.
Hart-to-Hart Farm of MA will purchase soil amendments and forage mixes to improve their soil health and forage quality to increase their grazing season, improve feed quality, and demonstrate pasture renovation that is responsive to climate change.
Howmars Farm of VT will implement changes to their grazing dairy system that will improve forage productivity and quality. This will have positive benefits to their farm financials, ecological impacts, animal health, and milk quality.
Mapleline Farm of MA will purchase and install three Lely Discovery 120 manure collection robots. The robots will provide consistent, automated barn cleaning.
McGarry Dairy of VT will purchase and install four AMS Galaxy cow brushes, 140 Allflex cattle monitoring collars, and a Consumer Dynamics Scio Cup feed testing device. The three project will improve animal health outcomes and feed quality while decreasing wasted feed and purchased feed costs.
Molly Brook Farm of VT will purchase an Allflex SCR collar monitoring system for their herd of organic cows.
Moxie Ridge Farm of NY will create skills-based digital classes regarding small ruminant dairy farming to support workforce development, with a particular emphasis on outreach and engagement with the LGBTQ+ community.
Richville Farms of VT will complete four distinct improvement projects: 1) Purchase and install a New Holland Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) Crop Analysis System on their existing harvest equipment. The technology will generate real-time data regarding feed quality, yield, and moisture. 2) Purchase and install Topcpn feed testing equipment to reduce feed loss and spoilage by generating real time data of dry matter content. 3) Purchase and install SCR collars on their cows to monitor rumination, reproductive health, and animal performance. 4) Purchase and utilize an ultrasound machine to support the Grantee’s embryo and in-vitro fertilization services.
Strolling of the Heiffers of VT will purchase Nofence Grazing Technology geofencing enabled collars to support trial utilization at three participating grazing dairy farms. The technology will enable farmers to graze cows without having to manually build and move fence.
University of Vermont and State Agricultural College will support farmers receiving technical assistance to incorporate precision manure management with novel urease enzyme inhibitors to reduce manure nutrient loss, reduce fertilizer inputs, increase forage yields, and maximize returns to the farm business.
Photo above is from the Lely website of a Lely Juno automatic feed pusher. Many grantees are adding robotics to their dairy operations.