Chuck Denney-Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
Framed by the Smoky Mountains, some of Tennessee’s prettiest land is now a working farm. Soybeans and corn are growing here. There’s been no livestock on this land for at least fifteen years, but it will also soon become a high tech dairy.
Bobby Simpson (UT AgResearch)
“It’s a 529 acre field laboratory. It will be a working dairy farm. Upward to 200 cows eventually, 200 lactating cows, and all that goes with that.”
Bobby Simpson oversees UT AgResearch’s Little River Animal and Environmental Unit in Walland – named for the waterway around the perimeter of the farm. One key function here is to study how we can grow crops and animals, and still protect the environment.
“We consider it an honor, a privilege and a huge responsibility to be caretakers of this land, stewards of this farm. Like every other farmer in Tennessee and the United States, and every generation of farmers who came before us, we want to leave this land in better shape than we found it.”
In addition to the dairy, the goal here is to also raise 200 acres of row crops and another 50 acres of pasture. The facility will sustain itself with corn silage and hay for animals. This serves as a model for what a future Tennessee farm should look like.
At the Little River facility, UT AgResearchers will study how animal agriculture can interact with the land. This large containment unit will store animal waste in an effort to both fertilize soil and protect water quality. Researchers will also look for the most efficient use of soil nutrients.
Dr. Steve Oliver (UT AgResearch)
“Over the past several years, we’ve been collecting water samples, soil samples, air samples.”
Dr. Steve Oliver says we have to keep land in agricultural production and still maintain the environment.
Dr. Steve Oliver
“They’re projecting a huge increase in population growth in the next 50 years, and to meet those food needs, we’re going to have to do a much better job with the land mass that we currently have, and make that land more efficient.”
Crops will be harvested and cows will be milked here this fall. The unit serves as an example that when it comes to farming and a healthy world, we can have both. After all, we must feed the planet, but we have to protect it too.
NOTE: The Little River Unit will also allow UT agriculture students to study animal and crop production on site.