John Jacobs, Green Valley Dairy, Krakow, WI
John Jacobs says he is just trying to be a decent farmer who does the right thing. He has steadily grown the Green Valley Dairy operation over the past 13 years with the motto, "grow better before bigger." This motto holds true as he continues to find opportunities to stay on the leading edge of dairy farming, and to achieve his ultimate goal of sustainability: leaving his children and grandchildren a farm that is better than the way he found it.
John Jacobs established a sustainability goal with his brother Mark to reduce the dairy's carbon footprint while adhering to sound business practices. With 3,500 cows and 3,500 young cows offsite, the implementation of manure digesters to provide manure management, odor containment and sequestration of methane emissions.
The digesters breakdown the manure to produce electricity; provide material used for cow bedding; and create liquid by-products that fertilize crops through underground transmission pipes.
Jacobs is proud of the commitment the dairy made to be a good steward of the environment and adhere to their philosophy of responsible and sustainable farming. Green Valley openly shares research and information with the dairy industry and other operations that are seeking guidance or ideas as they venture down the path of green dairy expansions.
Reclaim and Sell Energy
The three digesters have allowed Green Valley Dairy to substitute fossil-fuel-based electricity and heating with clean, renewable electricity and waste heat from generators. The Jacobs produce enough power to supply the farm and 1,200 neighboring homes year round.
Bio-based materials used for cow bedding produced by the digesters has eliminated the need to purchase sand bedding. Green Valley sells the recycled bedding to nearby dairies and landscaping companies at a lower cost than they could purchase commercially. The liquid manure applied to fields also returns much-needed natural nutrients to the soil.
Due to water recycling efforts, Green Valley Dairy is pulling less from the community's water table. The dairy has six miles of underground piping that transports low solid nutrients to an irrigation system. The piping system eliminates additional hauling and transportation emissions and also places nutrients and water back into the soil.
Small Steps Add Up
These efforts at Green Valley Dairy, when combined with responsible dairy producers across the country, can really add up to create a more sustainable future for communities, business and the planet.
WWF and the Innovation Center for US Dairy are working together with dairy producers to share science-based practices and encourage stewards like Jacobs to develop and adopt sustainability practices in their operations.