In 2006, the CANR began a major renovation of its dairy facilities in an effort to modernize milk production and protect environmental quality. A new double-eight parallel milking parlor was built, using funds provided by the UNIDEL Foundation, the CANR, and donations from the dairy industry and its partners. The new dairy parlor is equipped with state-of-the-art milking equipment and a rapid exit system for cows to leave the parlor. The vacuum equipment for the parlor is located in a basement, which reduces noise in the milking parlor, enhancing workers’ comfort. The construction of eight tie stalls for use with lactating dairy cows will allow for more intensive research to be conducted than can be done than with cows in freestalls. Potential projects include manure collection and frequent sampling to see how feed changes affect nutrient output and ultimately impact the environment.
Environmental stewardship was also addressed, using funds from a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant, the New Castle County Conservation District, and the CANR. A manure recycling and composting facility was constructed to improve dairy manure management and address farm-wide nutrient management and water quality concerns. This sand/manure separation unit cleans and recycles sand for bedding in the freestall barns. The organic matter from the manure will soon be composted and exported from the farm for use by local landscape and nursery industries.
The liquid portion of the manure is stored in a large holding tank until it can be applied at the correct time of year to the forage and silage crops grown on the farm as feed sources for the dairy cows. Improvements in the management of stormwater runoff from the farm yard were also put into place. Roof runoff (clean water) is diverted away from dairy structures and> filtered naturally into nearby pastures. Runoff from the barnyard areas is captured and stored in the large holding tank also used by the manure management system.