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Sustainable silicon farming to defeat California drought


Photo courtesy of Mark Niu for CGTV-America

By Mark Niu

The drought on America’s west coast is taking its toll on the dairy industry as around 100 dairy farms now go out of business each year waiting for rain. To survive, some farmers are finding technology to be one of their greatest assets.

Straus became the first organic dairy farm west of the Mississippi River back in 1994. Under second generation farmer Albert Straus, the creamery has evolved into “silicon farming”.

Albert Straus used a computer system to track each organic grain. His calves had radio frequency ID tags implanted in their ears that helped monitor how much they drank so that Straus could know how much feed cost was per cow and how much income they brought in.

This farm also had just one of two methane digesters in existence on the entire Northern California coast. It pushed 20,000 gallons of manure and milk waste through the system every day.

With 80 percent of the dairies in nearby counties now all certified organic, Straus believed “sustainability” business models were proving more profitable and better for the environment.

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