An Organic Dairy Cooperative decides to give Satellite Technology a Shot

There is a cooperative that has adopted satellite technology to assist the farmers with dairy pastures. That’s exciting, especially for people who never imagined that the phrases daily pastures and satellite technology would ever be used in the same sentence. So, how exactly will this thing go down? The dairy farmers use the rotational pasture grazing method, and the satellite technology will help them improve it. They will end up using the shortest time possible to take the health of the herds, environment, and pastures to a whole new level. Making management decisions will also be a breeze, all thanks to this technology.

As far as satellite photography is concerned, it is not a new concept in various farm areas, and an excellent example is row crops. However, it is not common when it comes to managing dairy farming. Despite being new, dairy farmers from the Organic Valley cooperative won’t let it stop them from exploring the technology. On the contrary, they are quite excited about being its pioneer.

One of the Organic Valley farmers by the name Jon Bansen hailing from Monmouth, Ore, has a positive testimony regarding satellite imagery. As much as it was designed for soybeans and corn, he has used it in his pastures. Interestingly, it hasn’t disappointed him at all. His next step is to fine-tune it to be suitable for grazing. Out of all the Organic Valley cooperative members, only 22 of them are taking part in the pilot project, and Jon is one of them.

As in most cases, the daily farmers do intensive rotational grazing.  To facilitate that, they usually divide the perennial pastures into paddocks which are small portions or subdivisions. That will not change even with the introduction of satellite technology. However, farmers won’t have to take trips to the paddocks to see if it is time to change the herd. Instead, they will receive photos of the forage in each paddock on the computer or mobile. According to Bansen, the images can even tell the areas that need manure so that they can be fertile to the fullest. In case the irrigation lines missed spots, he could identify them from the photos.

Wade Miller, the senior director at the Organic Valley in charge of farm resources, is also the project leader. The inspiration to adapt satellite technology was the Michigan State University. According to a study by the institute, dairy farmers got more from pasture by at least 20% when using the technology. After the pilot project, the satellites will be fine-tuned, and the rest of the cooperative members will start enjoying the benefits.