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Who Knew? STEM Education At The Dairy Farm.

Submitted by alesha.lemmon on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 08:20
Lilei Leifson

 As one might expect, science and math are everywhere!


On Monday, November 24th, our Ag Science class went on a field trip to the Otteson Dairy Farm in Palmyra,UT. We visited 11 different stations all around the farm, and each station had an example of a science that is used on the dairy. Some of them are chemistry, geology and biology. At station 1 we visited the manger, where all the adult dairy cows are kept. This station was also tied into Station 6, where we visited the commodity shed, where the ingredients needed for the cows’ feed are kept. Additionally, math is used a lot in both of these stations. In order for the cows to produce the best milk possible, they need the right amount of certain components to keep them healthy. Depending on the cows’ health, the amounts of each nutrient is calculated so the cattle don’t get too much of one thing or too little of another.

Station 2 was the fertilizer, where dairy farmers use chemistry to mix the right elements to create fertilizer that helps the crops grow best. Some of the elements used in fertilizer are NPK, or nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The fertilizer is used on the field, which was station 5. The soil in the field already has elements from the rocks of which it is made. Farmers are able to add more elements to the soil, using both Geology and Chemistry, so plants can grow better. Station 3 is also tied into these two stations. Using GPS, the plows connect to the satellites to get a better view of the fields so they can plow the fields straighter and also get a better view of what parts of the field need more fertilizer or more water.

At station 4, they use a separator to take care of the manure the cows produce by separating it. If not taken care of, the manure would seep into the ground and into the water, which then gets it into our potable water systems. This is environmental science. At station 7, the office, economics and sociology are used. The office deals with the money the farm earns and the farm’s employee’s pay, and those in the office also interact with a lot of people.

At stations 8 and 9, dairy farmers use biology and animal science to take care of the calves. Almost every day a new calf is born, and they are cared for in a small barn. When the calves are older, they move to station 9 where they each get their own little pen. The mother’s milk is pasteurized to avoid bacteria growth and then bottle fed to the calves. Our class got to walk around and visit the calves, and a couple of them were brave enough to even let us pet them!

The last two stations, 10 and 11, use chemistry and biology. Station 10 is the milking parlor, where the cattle are milked. Chemicals are used to keep the parlor and the cows’ udders clean. The milk is then taken straight to station 11, where it is put into a large tank to be chilled. A mechanical arm homogenizes the milk, which means it keeps the fat moving so it doesn’t separate and float to the top. Our class got to sample the milk from the tank, and it was very good!

Altogether, we had a field trip that was both fun and we learned a lot, too. It was a little chilly, but still had a good experience. There is a whole lot more that goes into a dairy farm then people might think, and our class got to witness that first-hand!