Dorrich Dairy in Glenwood, Minnesota, has been recognized with a 2015 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. The 400-cow dairy was selected for its holistic environmental approach, including using wasp larvae to control the farm’s fly population, minimizing the use of pesticides and the farm’s impact on the environment.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farmers, announced the winners of the fourth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards on May 7 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The program recognizes outstanding dairy farms, businesses and partnerships for practices large and small that not only focus on the environment, but add up to promote the health and well-being of consumers, communities, cows, employees, the planet and business.
Dorrich Dairy has been in the Vold family since 1899. The current generations are embracing both tried-and-true and cutting-edge methods of protecting the farm’s natural resources to ensure that the land stays viable for the next generation — and beyond.
“Continuing our family’s tradition as stewards of the land is immensely important to all of us, and this recognition reinforces what we’ve been doing for more than a century,” says Suzanne Vold, who farms with her husband Brad, his brother Greg and Greg’s wife Charity, and the Vold brothers’ parents, Dorothy and Richard. “That tradition is centered around honoring the commitment we’ve made to the environment, our animals and our neighbors. Richard and Dorothy honored that commitment, and so are we.”
Since 2009, the Volds have been introducing wasp larvae into fly nests. Once the wasps hatch, they eat the fly pupa, then lay eggs to begin the cycle again. The strategy has drastically reduced the need for synthetic chemicals to control flies and has cut insecticide costs by 85 percent.
In addition to successfully implementing this integrated pest management system, the Volds have embraced numerous other approaches designed to make a measurable impact on the environment, their community and the farm’s future, including:
- Protecting water quality through frequent crop rotations;
- Planting corn in smaller-than-usual 15-inch rows to crowd out weeds;
- Aggressively scouting pests; and
- Using a high-tech soil-mapping system to continuously measure pH and electrical conductivity to determine the precise amount of nutrients to use.
The holistic approach is designed to maximize yield and minimize the farm’s environmental footprint. “We’re constantly collecting data to adjust and readjust,” says Greg Vold. “Combining the latest technology with our family’s 116 years of farming experience really allows us to find and put into action the best solutions.”
“We all want to be able to pass our farm on to the next generation. We’re constantly working to find the most effective methods of protecting our natural resources,” says Brad Vold. “We owe it to the next generation to find ways to make this all work as efficiently and as effectively as we can.”
U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award winners were selected based on results as measured by economic, environmental and community impact. An independent panel of judges — which included experts working with and through the dairy industry — also assessed the potential for adoption by others, demonstrated learning, innovation, improvement and scalability.