Dairy farms that graze their herds on deep-rooted, perennial pastures improves soil health, water quality, animal welfare, and profitability.
While many grazing dairy farmers report their methods produce less soil erosion and nutrient runoff than confined dairy herds—while generating better quality milk at lower production costs—it’s challenging to develop a holistic account of the environmental and economic footprints of grazing dairies.
We’ve partnered with the USDA Agricultural Research Service to conduct whole-farm environmental and economic assessments of grazing dairy farms. We work with the Integrated Farming Systems Model to simulate flows of energy, nutrients, and dollars through a working dairy farm.
The IFSM model allows us to assess sales and gross profits per cow and per pound of milk. It also assesses a range of environmental indicators including nitrogen and phosphorus losses to the environment, fossil fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.
If you own or manage a commercial grazing dairy in Pennsylvania or surrounding states, you’re eligible to participate in the study.
Beyond contributing to a dataset that will help dairy farmers everywhere understand their environmental and economic footprint, you’ll also receive:
Participating is simple. First, contact us to let us know you’re interested. We’ll provide you with a brief survey about basic aspects of your farm to see if it’s a good match for the study considering the range of current participants.
If your farm is eligible to participate, you’ll complete an approximately 90-minute interview to review your records for crop and hay yields, milk production and quality, and sales and expenses. We and scientists from the USDA Agricultural Research Service will also work with you to define and test “what-if” scenarios for boosting your production, cutting your costs, or improving your natural resource stewardship.
As with all of our research projects, your farm’s data will be kept strictly confidential. We’ll only share general trends and insights.