On this week’s AnimalAgCast, I was fortunate to speak with Peter Gallo, a third-generation farmer and cheesemaker at Joseph Gallo Farms, a dairy farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California. The operation has been a pioneer in sustainable farming practices and recently made headlines following the decision to install a new 2 megawatt (MW) solar array to supply renewable energy on-site.
The system is the largest ever installed on a private dairy farm: it utilizes 7,840 solar panels on 8 acres to provide on-site renewable energy, significantly reducing the operation’s need for electricity from the local utility and lowering the operation’s CO2 emissions by an estimated 27,500 metric tons of over the next 20 years. The projected emission decrease will result in greenhouse gas reductions equal to planting more than 706,000 trees in the next 20 years, or removing more than 292 cars from the road annually. The amount of power produced could power 282 average homes a year.
“To us, sustainable agriculture is about making the most of what God has given us; It’s about replenishing natural resources rather than exhausting them, and a dairy farm must be sustainable, both environmentally and financially,” said Gallo during the program. “We had been thinking about going solar for years, and this has helped bring us closer to our goal of becoming a net zero dairy farm and cheese maker. This was sizable investment for a dairy farm of our size, but we’re committed to the long-term.”
Gallo’s operation also utilizes one of the largest and longest-running methane digesters in California to power the biogas engines that run their cheese factory.
“Our digester has been very efficient, and it has helped us eliminate 25,000 tons of CO2 each year, so I absolutely feel that the building of more digesters in California should be a priority,” he said.
Catch his full conversation with Lizzy in the full AnimalAgCast:
AnimalAgCast with Peter Gallo, Joseph Farms