Natural Prairie Dairy has installed a system that transforms cow manure into three products: dry organic fertilizer, an ammonia-based liquid fertilizer for crops, and clean water that could eventually be used for livestock.
“Manure has always been a problem,” said Cheri DeJong, Natural Prairie Dairy co-owner and chief financial officer in this week’s Ag+Bio+Science podcast presented by AgriNovus Indiana. “But we see it as a tremendous resource within our farming operation.”
The Texas-based dairy farm purchased land in northwest Indiana four years ago to expand the company into the Midwest. Following a three-year-long conversion process, the pastureland was certified organic, allowing the company to produce organic milk.
“Because we’re a certified organic dairy farm, we cannot use herbicides and pesticides, the way that other farmers use it,” said DeJong.
But they can use co-products created from their own organic-fed cows, creating a closed-loop system.
Natural Prairie Dairy built its farm in Indiana because it supplies organic milk to Michigan-based Meijer Inc. DeJong says the decision to start operations in Indiana was easy, as the state has been very supportive.
“In the Newton County area, there’s already a dairy presence with Fair Oaks Farms. You have the infrastructure and services you need in order to have a dairy,” said DeJong. “It was an obvious choice for us.”
DeJong discussed the farm operation with the podcast and Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick in the premiere episode of Season 4 of the Ag + Bio + Science podcast.