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Small Family Farm Sees Big Improvements in Conservation and Production

Highlights in Conservation icon

Small Family Farm Sees Big Improvements in Conservation and Production

Cattle feeding area with manure separator and center pivot in the background.

Cattle feeding area with manure separator and center pivot in the background.

Location icon
Grant County, near Moses Lake

Project Summary icon
Installation of a modern manure treatment facility and feeding area which included: a holding tank for untreated manure, a pumping plant, separator, a large lagoon to hold separated liquids, a center pivot to utilize the liquid. A comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) is to follow.

Conservation Partners icon
Washington State Conservation Commission (WCC), Moses Lake Conservation District (MLCD), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Resource Challenges icon
Untreated dairy waste has historically been discharged directly behind the dairy in close proximity to Crab Creek and other spring fed wetlands. The cows were being fed on bare ground and mud with no stanchions to separate the animals. Meanwhile, impending Washington Department of Ecology (WDOE) regulations threatened to put this second generation dairy out of business.

Conservation Program Used icon
WCC's Livestock Grant Program and NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentives Plan (EQIP)

Innovations and Highlights icon
Producer James Voss acquired the struggling operation from his father who retired in 2004. The 40-head cow operation was not profitable enough to accomplish improvements needed on the farm to remain competitive avoiding environmental penalties. James voluntarily came to the NRCS seeking technical and financial assistance to help him with modernizing his farming operation. An EQIP conservation plan was developed in conjunction with a WCC's Livestock Grant, which helped fund the improvements. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provided a low interest loan to finance the remaining percentage not covered by the conservation programs.

Results and Accomplishments icon
James has been able to increase the herd from 40, to over 150 head of cattle while eliminating the manure pollution the farm was generating. James said "the difference on the farm is like night and day." Manure that had been a burden on the farm for nearly 40 years is now used as a valuable resource on adjoining crop fields. The almost fully automated lagoons, pump, separator, and center pivot are used to spread the liquid, greatly reducing labor needed to run the farm. As part of the project, James built a concrete feeding pad with stanchions, increasing milk production and quality of life for the herd. James has recently completed his EQIP contract and is extremely pleased with the outcome.

Contact icon
Paul Gleason, Soil Conservationist, (509) 754-2463 x 114

NRCS, Spring 2008