2018-06-21 / Front Page

Dairy Farm Tour Features New Farming Techniques

A look inside Pigeon Cove Farms
By Cassidy Pittman

Brad Palmer gives talks about the farm’s new custom Double 10 Parabone milk parlor at this year’s Legislative Farm Tour. Brad Palmer gives talks about the farm’s new custom Double 10 Parabone milk parlor at this year’s Legislative Farm Tour. Last Wednesday Fulton County Farm Bureau (FCFB) President Marlin Lynch and the Palmer family welcomed legislators, agriculture and conservation enthusiasts, and members from Fulton, Franklin, and Bedford farm bureaus to a tour of Pigeon Cove Farms near Warfordsburg.

The tour provided an opportunity to showcase the progress agricultural activities have made to reduce/eliminate runoff into waterways of eroded/possibly harmful materials, as well as showcase other upgraded farming techniques.

The farm, owned and operated by the Palmer family, started in 1889, a mere 39 years after the county itself was officially founded. Today, it is managed by fourth-generation Lonnie Palmer and son Brad, a fifth-generation Palmer farmer. Because of the family’s passion for agriculture, their farm offers a look into the future of an industry blending a mixture of software, agriculture and conservation.

Local Pennsylvania Senate candidate Emily Best (D), state representative candidate Deb Baughman (D), and 9th District Congressional candidate Brent Ottaway (D) attended the tour, along with Bonnie Mellott- Keefer, representative from Rep. Jesse Topper’s office (R), and Nancy Bull, deputy district director from Bill Shuster’s office (R). Fulton County Commissioner Rodney McCray, and over 20 others also visited the farm to take the tour. The legislative farm tour served as an opportunity for local officials to learn more about Fulton County’s agricultural conservation. The tour also provided a chance for members of the agriculture community to share concerns and discuss how current or proposed legislation or regulations will affect their operations.

During the tour, the fatherson Palmer duo guided guests through their redesigned milk parlor that features custom double 10 Parabone milking equipment.

A parabone milking system is a cross between a parallel and herringbone. It is arranged at parallel spacing, however, the cows stand in herringbone fashion. The cows are placed at a greater angle from the operator (about 70 degrees) than in traditional herringbones but less than 90 degrees as in a parallel. This configuration usually eliminates the need for front positioners as used in a parallel, according to dairylane.com.

While discussing milking upgrades and procedures, Brad also displayed a new ear tag that, once attached to the cows, can read information straight into the farmer’s phones or computers. These tags have microchips in them that gather information that can tell farmers when their cows are ready for breeding. They also gather other health information such as heart rate, body temperature, etc.

After securing a PennVEST grant in 2011, Pigeon Cove Farm was able to invest in a new manure storage system. The system is unique because after the manure is collected, it is separated into liquids, solids, and gasses by an anaerobic digester. The gasses, predominately methane, are burned off in a safe manner, while the solids are dried, crumbled, and used for bedding. Liquids are then used as fertilizers for crops. The system, although costly upfront, brings a new wave of conservation to farmers. Guests were also able to see and discuss various farm equipment and feeding procedures.

During the tour, guests also had a chance to talk with Fulton County Conservation District staff Eric Cromer, agricultural specialist, and Seleen Shives, district manager. Cromer gave a presentation on soil and water conservation. Also present was Dairy Princess Katie Anderson and two helpers, who hope to spread the word about the importance of the dairy industry.

According to FCFB President Lynch, there are 800,000 Pennsylvanians that work in the agriculture field, and 23 million people in the industry nationwide. Despite the large numbers, that is less than 2 percent of our nation’s population who work in the agriculture industry.

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