Choosing the right partners to help accomplish your dairy farm goals is an important decision.
Just as you carefully consider financial and business advice, selecting a team to help bring your facilities and manure management needs and visions to life deserves the same thoughtful evaluation.
After all, not only is proper manure handling necessary for animal health and comfort, but research shows dairy manure management emissions may account for a significant percentage of all manure management emissions. Plus, it often presents many challenging tradeoffs between environmental, economic, community and farmer priorities. Therefore, appropriate manure management is required to ensure that manure is utilized as a valuable resource with minimal impact on the environment and surrounding communities.
To make sure you hit all these goals, you need the right partner to help you address these concerns while providing sound advice to maximize facilities, handling options, employee workflow, nutrient utilization and future options.
Your ideal manure partner should:
- Analyze challenges and opportunities
- Share experiences from other farms
- Make recommendations to benefit your farm
Here are four points to ruminate on while weighing your options.
1. Explore history
Choose a manure management partner with lengthy industry or related-industry experience who is dedicated to excellence and continuous improvement. A prospective partner should include a team with deep industry knowledge, technical expertise and a history of tackling challenges resulting in positive outcomes for their customers, so ask for references.
Years of experience supplying unique solutions with local engineering, service and knowledge are strong attributes to consider.
2. Seek durable equipment
Handling manure, especially sand-laden manure, requires proven heavy-duty equipment. Look for a partner who can deliver equipment designed by engineers who take pride in building easy-to-use products to get the job done right. Seek solutions with less downtime, fewer parts runs and less investment needed to sustain the equipment.
3. Find an engineering team with the right background
To transform manure from a challenge into an opportunity, look for a dedicated team of manure management engineers focused on the evolution of manure on your dairy farm. A team steeped in process development is ideal because the manure management systems you need to move your dairy forward are based on a series of processes.
Also, choose a partner who will walk your barns, talk to your team and collaborate with your local dealer. They should ask about the challenges you face today, whether it’s an increasing cost of sand or concerns about sand ending up in lagoons, or wear and tear on equipment.
The right team should also look ahead to future needs. Are you going to expand your dairy? Do you like the way you’re currently handling manure? Are you interested in putting a flume in, for example, because you’ll be adding another barn? To get manure to one location to process it, do you need to change your conveyance system to get manure out of the barn? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to consider.
4. Ask about the dealer network and sales team
Dependable, dedicated sales and services are the foundation for a lasting partnership. Be sure to investigate a potential partner’s dealer network and sales team. Do they have the knowledge needed to deliver the results you need today and tomorrow? Does a potential partner collaborate with their dealers to offer continuing education and solutions to keep their customers competitive and growing?
In a nutshell, a good partner is concerned about the outcome you need, committed to team goals, willing and able to listen, eager to work on your dairy’s team and able to offer challenging ideas.