Title: 1994 Ag-Environmental: Gustafson's Dairy Farm
Type: Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award
Founded by the Gustafson family in Green Cove Springs, the Gustafson Dairy is the largest family owned and operated dairy in the United States. In operation since 1908, it’s in its fourth generation of family ownership. While the dairy is the major part of the operation, other ventures include beef cattle, row crops and forest management.
Understanding that environmental stewardship is vital to the success of the operation, the Gustafson family is committed to remaining at the forefront of this constantly evolving field.
Sherwood Gustafson: I don't think you ever get through going forward. I think it's something you have to continuously work towards. Because I don't think anybody's really got the final answer and the final idea. And so we're very open-minded and very receptive to all ideas.
One of those ideas was an environmentally sound waste management system installed to accommodate more than 5,500 cows at a cost of 1 3/4 million dollars.
The waste system confines all cows in a High Intensity Area of nearly 200 acres. A perimeter ditch collects all runoff and conveys it to a central sump area, where it is pumped into a 90-acre waste storage pond. With their love of wildlife in mind, the Gustafson's included islands in the pond to provide habitat for waterfowl.
Eleven miles of pipeline carry the nutrient-enriched water from the pond to the row crops. A state-of-the-art irrigation system makes the most efficient use of the water while maximizing crop production. The cycle is completed as the harvested crops are fed back to the cows.
Designing and implementing such a resourceful waste management system reflects the Gustafsons' longstanding philosophy of land preservation.
Edwin Gustafson: I think our sign out the highway expresses some of our feelings about our thoughts and our philosophy. As to the land out there, we do not own the land, we're using it. We must preserve it. We must take care of it as we pass through and let the next one respect it and take care of it and pass it down.