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Mercer Vu Farm: Highlights from a NativeEnergy event

Posted by The NativeEnergy Team on Nov 10, 2011
Tags: carbon projects, farm methane, proj. supporter program

Have you ever been to a dairy farm? Do you know how some farms are reducing their carbon emissions?

On Thursday, October 13, we hosted an event for Project Supporters of the Northeast Farm Separation Project. NativeEnergy’s business clients learned everything from how cows are milked to how equipment installed by this project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Ten clients—including representatives from The Brick Companies, RLP Capital, and the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run—traveled from cities along the Eastern Seaboard to visit the family-owned Mercer Vu farm, which is located in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. Some of the attendees had grown up on farms, others had never been to one, but everyone seemed excited to see the site where their project will be installed.

Here are some highlights:

  • The event began with coffee, snacks, and socializing in the meeting room. This room is lined with pictures—images of the farm from 1966 to today. The Hissongs, who own the farm, have a long history with the land. Their grandparents got their start at the farm next door, and the two farms grew with each generation until they reached the 1,500 cows at Mercer Vu that they milk today.
  • During his introduction to the project, NativeEnergy staff member Sean Breen passed around his infamous “bag o’ manure.” Hesitant at first, people quickly noticed its crumbly, dry texture and lack of smell. This material, produced by the manure separation equipment, provides high quality cow bedding. Not only is it perfectly safe for cows, but it also reduces costs for the farms and limits nutrient runoff that can harm local watersheds.
  • When we visited the milking parlor, clients got to see how efficient today’s farms can be. Each cow is only in the parlor for 6-7 minutes. A rubber coating on the floor adds to their comfort. In total, Mercer Vu produces 12,000-15,000 gallons of milk per day. Most is sold to Land O’ Lakes, with 90% going to butter production.
  • Rod Hissong noted that the farm has won an award from Land O’ Lakes every year for the past five years for its cleanliness and cow health. The Hissongs know the importance of caring for the herd. “Everything from my first car to my college education was paid for by a cow,” Rod said.
  • The tour ended with a trip to see the manure separation technology that is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and yielding the bedding. Through the Northeast Farm Separation Project, a centrifuge system will reduce emissions and farm costs further.

After the tour, we all enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant in town. Over drinks and sweet potato fries, we reminisced about how much we had learned and how neat it was to see a dairy farm in action. We look forward to bringing clients to events like this in the future. Big thanks to the Hissongs and Integrity Ag Systems for helping us organize the event!

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