Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Enrollment

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An Innovative Approach to Cow Cooling

Jackson Wright, Dairy
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

May 1, 2012

Currently, the primary methodologies for heat abatement on dairy operations are the combination of shade, fans, and sprinklers. Sprinklers provide the most effective method for cow cooling as they facilitate evaporative cooling, however many have raised concerns over excessive water usage on agricultural operations. One way to address these concerns while still providing adequate heat abatement measures would be to look to the south. In Texas droughts are common and as a result rainwater collection systems are widely used to maximize the use of this precious resource. Utilizing rainwater as the primary water source for cow cooling systems would offer many benefits as collecting rainwater would reduce demand on utilities during peak summer usage. After the initial installation, water collected would be free to the dairy producer reducing utility bills; utilizing rainwater would reduce pressure on many manure management systems; and because rainwater provides water with zero hardness, this approach would eliminate scale build up on sprinkler heads.  

In addition, dairy operations inherently have a large roof surface area in order to provide adequate housing to their cows. Moreover, the northeast has relatively consistent rainfall throughout the summer months with western New York averaging 3.34 inches of rain in June, 3.47 inches of rain in July, and 3.38 inches of rain in August. According to the Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, approximately 0.62 gallons per square foot per inch of rainfall can be collected through rainwater collection systems. Conservatively, a dairy operation with 25,000 square feet of roof surface area with 3.3 inches of rainfall would capture 51,150 gallons of rainwater per month. For feed line sprinkler applications, assuming 500 feet of bunk space with sprinkler heads placed every 8 feet using a 0.5 gallon of water per minute, running 12 hours each day and cycling ON for 1 minute at 15 minutes intervals. The cow cooling system would require 1,512 gallons of water per day, or 45,360 gallons per month. Similarly, the holding area would be of interest as this area is the most hostile environment on the farm in relation to heat stress. For holding area sprinkler applications, assuming the holding area that is 20' by 100' with a sprinkler system delivering 1 gallon per 150 square feet per minute, running 12 hours each day and cycling ON for 1 minute at 6 minute intervals would require 1442 gallons of water per day, or 43,260 gallons per month. Both applications are below the anticipated amount of collected rainwater, suggesting that utilizing rainwater as the primary water source for cow cooling systems is feasible in the Northeast during the summer months.

Finally, because the water being harvested is used for cow cooling, water quality is not a primary concern. Therefore for this application a rainwater collection system can be installed relatively cheaply. To harvest rainwater for cow cooling would require reliable gutters that minimize overflow and water loss. A first flush diverter, to minimize contamination from the roof surface such as dust, leaves, blooms, twigs, insect bodies, animal feces, pesticides and other airborne residues, and a roof washers connecting the gutters to the storage tank to filter leaves and other small debris and minimize mosquito breeding. A polypropylene storage tank will also be needed, and that must be green or black to prevent algae growth, and finally, a water pump. These systems would be most beneficial to producers on municipal water supply or who struggle with hard water or low water supply during the summer months.











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

Weed Resistance Management Demonstration and Plot Tour

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 23, 2019
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Waterloo, NY

Come join us on July 23 in Seneca County at Quinten Good's farm for a demonstration and walking tour of 16 different pre- and post-emergence treatments in soybean and 12 different treatments and combinations in corn.
  • Tall waterhemp and marestail are two weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicide modes of action in the WNY and Finger Lakes regions.
  • Each year the number of acres with resistant weed populations expands.
  • For herbicides to be an effective tool in weed management, we have to know what chemistries & application timings are most effective against these resistant weeds.

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Income and Real Property Tax Primer-A Learning Circle for Women Non-Operating Land Owners of Ag Land

July 24, 2019
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Portageville, NY

For many of us taxes can be a mystery, let's have a conversation with the experts about the tax considerations agricultural landowners need to think about. 
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Pasture Walk with the Finger Lakes Graziers-Cancelled!

July 29, 2019
12:45 - 4 pm

The Finger Lakes Graziers pasture walk has been cancelled due to some scheduling conflicts. 
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RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."

New Guidance for Mortality Disposal Issued

NYS Department of Ag and Markets has posted guidelines on disposal of livestock carcasses, in response to reports that some rendering companies have halted pickups from farms.|1