Over the last 20 years, the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP) has worked with dairy farmers across New York state to employ research aimed at reducing agricultural operations’ environmental footprint.
NMSP’s Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators Project partners with farmers and farm advisers to conduct research that shows precisely how dairy farmers are making strides in such areas as nutrient use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, water quality impacts, animal and plant production efficiencies, and biodiversity on farms. Chobani is one of the biggest funders for this project in the hopes to develop and identify how applied research can help the industry make informed decisions about nutrients across the farm.
“Dairy sustainability is at the forefront of the dairy industry’s attention,” said Quirine Ketterings, professor of nutrient management in the Department of Animal Science in Cornell CALS and director of NSMP. “There’s peer pressure and a desire from within the industry to address ag and environmental management.”
Hear from three farmers participating in the Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators Project and learn more about the impacts of NMSP’s applied research.
EZ Acres Farm
For the last 15+ years, EZ Acres Farm has worked closely with NMSP to reduce the farm's environmental impacts. Integrating extension into their farm operations, Mike and Edie McMahon deployed nutrient management practices to minimize their carbon footprint and improve water quality, all while keeping their feed bill low.
“NMSP has changed how we manage nutrients on the farm dramatically. You can’t change what you don’t measure. This is your opportunity to measure your inputs, your exports and what stays on the farm to then decide how you deal with it.”
- Mike McMahon, EZ Acres Farm
Table Rock Farm
Meghan Hauser and her team at Table Rock Farm are investing in a brighter future for sustainable dairy. Leveraging on-farm research collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program, Table Rock Farm's solutions-oriented approach elevates not just their own operations but the broader New York State dairy community.
“Farmers are problem solvers. We deal with the impossible before breakfast every day. It’s natural that the dairy industry set goals towards climate change and we are the ones that should be trying to solve those problems.”
- Meghan Hauser, Table Rock Farm
Spruce Haven Farm
Since 1987, Doug Young, the owner of Spruce Haven Farm has relied on applied research with NMSP and experts at Cornell Animal Science to help improve the sustainability and profitability of his farm. From utilizing the power from anaerobic digesters to nutrient mass balance assessments, Doug is working hard to reduce his farm's carbon footprint.
“I’m thankful that Cornell is so close and there are so many wonderful faculty members like Dr. Ketterings that are passionate about helping farmers make improvements. We can’t make significant progress without that partnership.”
- Doug Young, Spruce Haven Farm
Footage by Daniella Garcia-Almeida Loos ’25 and Nicole Rossi
Editing by Daniella Garcia-Almeida Loos ’25, Caroline Stamm ’24 and Nicole Rossi
Daniella Garcia-Almeida Loos ’25 and Caroline Stamm ’24 are student communications assistants for the Cornell CALS Department of Animal Science.
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