Texas dairy farmers share the desire of Texans – in all times, not just in drought – to protect and conserve water supplies.
Texas dairy farmers use water responsibly for both cows and crops:
- The dairy industry has decreased its water footprint by more than 65% over the past several decades due to improved water management and more efficient milk production
- Dairy farmers work with researchers and others to develop new water conservation and quality protection technologies; upgrade irrigation systems; and modernize water storage and delivery systems.
- Water used on the farm is recycled and used multiple times. For example, water used to cool milk is reused to clean barn alleys or walkways and then recaptured as a natural, nutrient-rich resource to irrigate fields.
- More than 90% of the water used to produce dairy actually goes to grow crops to feed the cows.
- Fertilizing crops with cow manure increases the soil’s water-holding capacity by 20%, requiring less groundwater for irrigation.
- In arid areas, dairies capture rainwater from their roofs and fields to irrigate crops.
Texas dairymen protect water quality:
- Dairy farms must comply with clean water laws. Farmers protect the water on and near their farms through a variety of practices to minimize potential runoff from their operations.
- A dairy farm is required to obtain a number of permits from state agencies that oversee environmental operating practices. For example, dairies are required to maintain lined waste liquid storage ponds (lagoons), undergo continuous water testing, pass regular inspections, and develop and implement a site-specific nutrient management plan that tells the farmer where and how to apply manure and wastewater to fields.