“David and Marie are true environmental stewards. They are passionate about farming and preserving their land and water, and they are eager to work with others to better the environment. There’s no one more deserving of this award. Well done David and Marie!” said Jay Bryant, Maryland & Virginia’s CEO.
When he first found out about winning the award, David said “What? Wow, I was really taken aback. I know there are a lot of good farms out there that are deserving of this award.”
The award recognizes local dairy farmers who implement on-farm practices that will sustain the dairy industry now and into the future. The awards are given in three categories: animal care, community and consumer outreach, and environmental stewardship. The Graybills were selected for their efforts in environmental stewardship.
David and Marie are first-generation dairy farmers. Nearly twenty years ago David stepped away from a career as a high school agriculture and shop teacher to become farmer. “If the golden opportunity for this specific farm had not come about, I would still be an ag teacher,” he said. “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to farm a great piece of land.”
Their farm encompasses 400 acres (375 of cropland and 25 acres of pasture), and they milk 58 cows. The farm is unique in that it sits on red vertical shale with many winter springs. The farm is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, a key motivator for the Graybills to ensure their farm is environmentally sustainable for future generations.
David plants cover crops of wheat, sunflowers and buckwheat. He routinely monitors soil health and for the last four years he has been on the Natural Resources and Conservation Services (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program. Through NRCS, he tests his soil annually to look at trends and check for organic matter.
The Graybills have installed a leak detection system on their concrete manure pit to monitor and prevent silage leachate from the silos. The barnyard has a runoff system that puts runoff in a grassy area away from any waterways. All barns have spouting to keep clean water clean and to keep it out of manure contaminated water on concrete.
The farm also has 15 acres of wildlife habitat and 30 honey bee colonies as pollinators. All incandescent light bulbs on the farm have been switched to LED lights. The lights were updated from T8to T12 in 2004 and reduced energy consumption by two thirds. David also captures plate cooler water and uses it as cow drinking water with another complete pump system.
Beyond the farm, David is actively involved in the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and he chairs their Natural and Environmental Resources Committee. He is one of five farmers to sit on the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Watershed Implementation Plan Phase 3 committee. This committee is tasked with developing a plan to reduce the TMDL in the Chesapeake Bay by the year 2025. David is also on the Chesapeake Bay Partnership Ag Working Group.
In 2017, David and Marie hosted a large tour group from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. They wanted staff and regulators, local and state NRCS, conservation districts and EPA to see and learn first-hand about the environmental practices they have adopted and put in place on their farm. And in March 2019, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers named them Producer of the Year.
Choosing to be a dairy farmer has proved to be a rewarding life for David. “I get to watch the corn grow, milk cows, and be a businessman. It’s a much different perspective. I’m able to see the seasons change, and when I think of all the things I touch as a farmer, from watching the turtle cross the hayfield to the calf I helped deliver yesterday morning, there’s nothing more fulfilling.”
Congratulations to David and Marie for being named a Dairying for Tomorrow award winner!
Visit https://www.mdvamilk.com/about-us/our-farmers/ to learn more about the Graybills and to watch a video about their farming operation.
Contact: Daniela Roland, firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-386-8000