On Wednesday, Massachusetts' Department of Conservation and Recreation hosted an open house to celebrate renovations to Great Brook Farm in Carlisle, Mass. The agency partnered with other state and federal agencies in $2.1 million of improvements to its year-round dairy farm, the centerpiece of which is a robotic milking system.
In April of 2011, the farm built a new annex and dairy barn – now dubbed the "Smart Barn" – outfitted for 60 cows with the potential to accommodate up to 110 cows. The dairy farm's waste water system was also upgraded to handle milk room waste water, with the system design and construction costing $500,000.
It's part of a pilot program that will yield environmental data results that could be used for regulatory reforms for agricultural waste water statewide, report state officials. DCR partnered with the state's Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Agricultural Resources, and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The smartest part of this dairy farm is Delaval's Voluntary Milking System robotic milking unit purchased in December of 2010 for $350,000 with funding from DAR. It's touted as Massachusetts' first robotic milking system.
The VMS allows farmers to focus on the larger management of herd by helping farm managers run more sustainable, professional and productive dairy operations. The robotic milking system allows round-the-clock milking designed to optimize quality milk yield.
DCR has also worked with DAR and USDA on $200,000 in upgrades in manure and hay storage. DCR also spent $45,000 to complete an interpretive signage project at the new barn.
"Great Brook Farm State Park provides an excellent opportunity for recreation and education, "says DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. "As a centerpiece, this state-of-the-art dairy facility provides an unmatched opportunity to learn more about dairy farming in Massachusetts, new technologies that are being implemented, and management practices that contribute to greater sustainability."