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Published July 29, 2013, 11:23 AM

Technology and sustainability

A South Dakota dairy farm illustrates how technology is used to keep the operation sustainable.

By: South Dakota State University Extension Service,

BROOKINGS, S.D. — Water is reused, reclaimed and recycled on MoDak Dairy Inc. near Kranzburg, S.D. Owned and operated by brothers, Greg and Jim Moes, MoDak Dairy is a 2,000-cow operation.

“We wonder sometimes if we don’t wear out the water,” says Greg Moes.

When water is introduced to the system, it is first used to cool the milk from about 100 degrees when it comes out of the cow, to about 50 degrees. The now- warmed water is pumped into water tanks for cows’ drinking water.

“Cows prefer drinking warm water to cold water,” says Greg Moes, a fourth-generation dairyman.

Water that isn’t used as drinking water is pumped into the water heater and used for cleaning alleyways or the milking parlor. While the cows are being milked, two 600-gallon dump tanks periodically flush the floors. All wastewater is then collected and helps flush manure and sand used for bedding out of the barn and into a holding tank where the sand and waste solids separate from each other.

The sand is separated to dry out and be reused, while the wastewater and manure are stored until they are applied to crop fields following a strict manure management plan.

“Some think we just run out to the fields with a spreader and apply the manure. It’s not that way at all. Precision GPS technology is used to apply the manure,” Moes says.

A new barn

Water conservation is just one of many benefits the brothers have seen after they built a new cross ventilation barn in 2008. When they built the barn, their focus was on providing a clean, healthy and comfortable environment for their cows that also conserved energy and resources.

The 930-by-300-foot cross ventilation barn provides a comfortable environment for their cows in any weather. Curtains on the south wall of the structure are raised or lowered automatically, depending on the weather and temperature. One-hundred-forty-five 4-foot fans on the north side of the barn also help control the temperature and provide for a continuous flow of fresh air.

To learn more about the cross ventilation barn and other technology the Moes brothers have implemented at MoDak Dairy, visit the SDSUiGrow YouTube channel and watch the video interview titled “Jim and Greg Moes.”