A milk plant in Kansas has a new whole- and skim milk powder drying facility created with sustainable engineering features that led to the facility being named Sustainable Plant of the Year by Food Engineering magazine, says the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).
The DFA’s new 267,000 square foot drying facility, designed and built by Shambaugh & Son LP, has its own onsite wastewater treatment plant where water is treated and then recycled for irrigation. Other water- and energy-efficient features include:
- Advanced bio security, eliminating potential risks through implementation of varying hygiene zones, HEPA filters within the plant, and minimal manual contact with the product;
- Environmental safeguards designed into the system, such as a diffusion tank which allows trace emissions from the relief valve to be captured to ensure no contaminants are released into the atmosphere;
- Built-in redundancies that allow the plant to operate continuously.
The Sustainable Plant of the Year designation, awarded because of the facility’s innovative engineering features, indicates that the plant now goes “above and beyond the industry standards,” DFA says.
The DFA, a national cooperative owned by family farmers, says its focus on environmental management includes efforts like:
- Renewable energy: Methane digesters can turn cow manure into natural gas that can be used to power homes and equipment. DFA is looking at how to make methane digesters an affordable investment with a profitable return for members. DFA also offers resources and consulting service to members interested in incorporating wind or solar energy on their operations.
- Gold Standard Dairy Program: This program rewards producers who engage in sustainable practices and produce high-quality milk.
- Energy conservation: DFA’s dairies, plants and offices are actively implementing ways to use less energy.
- Recycling: DFA offices and plants participate in local recycling where available.
- Package reduction: DFA looks to create less waste in landfills by reducing the needed packaging on the dairy products it creates.
- Transportation efficiency: DFA is working to optimize transportation routes and using idle-monitoring technology to conserve fuel.
Dairy Industry Strives for Sustainability
The DFA is just one organization within the dairy industry seeking environmental responsibility. Last summer, the dairy farming industry as a whole was issued a call-to-action from a dairy farmer in Oregon to engage in sustainable practices. “Every dairyman has to do this,” said Louie Kazemier, co-owner of Rickreall Dairy. He added that environmental responsibility can lead to saving money, lowering costs of production, and increasing profit.
Rickreall Dairy’s sustainable measures include:
- Partnering with a neighbor farm to send the dairy’s solid waste there as fertilizer for its crops, in exchange for feed;
- Collaborating with a local food processor to recycle water for irrigation;
- Allowing for transparency of its dairy by its open-door policy and by hosting guided tours;
- Working with 18 different government agencies and being inspected once a month.
Vendors Mentioned Above
Shambaugh & Son LP
Photo credit: Mike Mozart, Flickr Creative Commons