PIERZ -- Throughout Dairy Month, WJON will be highlight a handful of stories honoring the dairy industry and today's story takes us to a century old dairy farm that uses renewable energy.

Drive out to Pierz and you'll come across the Marshik Dairy, a dairy farm that had to make some tough decisions.

"We had to think about going to upgrade the facility or were we going to milk in it until it fell apart," says Clare Palmquist.

Marshik Dairy has 47 solar panels to help power their dairy farm. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

Palmquist and her husband Dean Marshik run the fifth-generation dairy farm. Palmquist says they wanted the farm to stay a dairy, even if it wasn't in the family, and decided it was time for some upgrades. An upgrade that included building a wind turbine.

"Our wind turbine offset about 25 percent of our energy use," says Palmquist.

The upgrades continued with robotic milkers, solar power, and building an energy efficient barn, which helps power their 155-cow dairy farm.

"The barn is all energy efficient lighting and we thought we could use the natural air flow to cool the barn in the summer, and use the cows body heat to warm the barn," says Palmquist.

The farms upgrades have been unique to the area and last year the dairy won the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Achievement in Energy Efficiency.

"This system uses electricity so much differently then the other system, it's almost tough to compare the two and see which one is better," says Marshik.

He says they are happy with the improvements they have made on the farm, but says they are not done just yet.

"I think we have room for some more solar panels on the hay shed, I think at some point we will finish that out. It's just one step at a time," says Marshik.

Through renewable energy and automation, the diary now milks about 60 percent more cows and increased milk production just shy of 50 percent.

You can also see the farm in person as they host Breakfast on the Farm on June 20th.


Marshik Dairy added a wind turbine to their farm in 2008 to help cut electricity costs. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)