here is quite a lot that dairy farmers in Kenya can learn from Petersen Farm, a US based dairy farm that has been in existence since 1935. The farm, from the many years of being in the dairy business, has come up with such highly innovative methods of dealing with the problems facing dairy farming, that the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy awarded it with a National Sustainability Award.
What problems has Petersen Dairy Farm solved?
A major challenge facing dairy farming today is where to take the huge amounts of cow dung produced daily and how to deal with the stench that comes from such waste. Some farmers have taken a good step to make use of the dung to produce biogas. That is a commendable step, but think of the farmer in Kenya who has more than 1000 dairy cows; even if they would be able to construct a biogas plant that would process the amount of waste such a huge number of animals produce, where would they take so much gas?
Alternative dairy waste management that can earn you money
Instead of channelling all the waste that your dairy cows produce into a biogas plant, you can decompose it into highly valuable plant food that crop farmers will be very glad to buy. Petersen Dairy Farm have been decomposing cow dung and selling it off to farmers and besides eliminating the problem of piling up waste and the resultant stench in the farm, they have been making a good profit from it.
How is the decomposing done?
Cow dung is mixed with leaves and old news paper, or any other paper made from wood, and left to decompose naturally. The Petersen Farm gets the paper it uses from the neighbouring schools. The cow dung breaks down the paper and over a period of about one year, the mixture of dairy waste, paper and leaves is transformed into high quality fertilizer that has no negative effects on a farmer’s land whatsoever.
The Petersen are very happy about this innovation saying “Decomposing the waste material produced by our dairy cows has not only helped us greatly reduce the foul smell it produces; it has also created a value added product for us to sell.” This is a waste management method that dairy farmers in Kenyan can also use and help conserve our soils that are on the verge being declared unfit for crop production due to the effects of poor quality commercial fertilizers that we have used for decades.