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Organic Valley Pilots Satellite Photography to Improve Pastures, Protect the Environment

Photo Credit: Organic Valley

Organic Valley is launching a pilot program that uses satellite photography to measure pasture health on its dairy farms; the company expects that its farmers will be able to capture at least a 20% increase in pasture utilization through the use of this technology.

Organic Valley’s farmers use rotational grazing, which requires that farmers move their herds frequently based on the maturity and quality of forage available. In order to do that, farmers are required to measure the forage in each small section of pasture — or “paddock” — on a regular basis. The satellite technology measures the forage in each paddock remotely, greatly easing the farmer’s labor and time burden. It will provide farmers with nearly real-time feedback every week to support dairy herd nutrition, protect and improve their pastures, and benefit the environment, the company says.

The pilot program will be tested on a cross-section of farms nationwide in 2021. The technology will be made available to all Organic Valley farms in 2022.

Organic Valley, the largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative in the US and one of the world’s largest organic consumer brands, focuses on regenerative farming practices across its farmers’ 189,000+ acres of pastureland. Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach that focuses on tactics like topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, and improving the water cycle.

Another company focusing on regenerative agriculture is Danone North America. Danone NA says its regenerative farming program is currently the most comprehensive regenerative agriculture dairy program in the US. The company is in the middle of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar soil health research program aimed at improving organic matter in soils leading to increased carbon sequestration and improved yields, reducing chemical use, restoring biodiversity, and enhancing soil water holding capacity, leading to improved farm economic resilience over the long term.

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