Being aware of the sensitivities of their neighbours is high on the priority list at Pendray Farm in North Saanich.
The third stop on the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Tour of Industry, brought local politicians and community leaders to a dairy farm that’s working hard to be self-reliant and at the same time, less offensive.
Guide Steve Pearce, the son-in-law of farm owner Linda Pendray, took tour participants around the farm and into a rarely-seen portion of the operation — a place most people would probably avoid if they knew it was there in the first place.
It’s where the farm collects the urine and feces from its cattle and turns it into manure for the fields. While the farm does have all of those typical farm smells, its the operation of this part of Pendray that does its utmost not to offend sensitive senses.
“We are a dairy farm,” noted Pearce. “And we are aware that we are within a high-end neighbourhood so we have to be aware of the smell and the impact the farm has on our neighbours and on the environment.”
Pendray Farm, he continued, is close to many water sources and must be careful about what it puts onto the ground. Waste from the cattle is carefully collected and contained in a specific area where it is broken down into manure — liquid and solid. The farm still spreads that manure into the fields surrounding it but, as Pearce pointed out, two days after applying it there was little to no smell.
That’s due to the specific and innovative way they apply manure on the farm. Instead of the traditional spraying it through the air and onto the ground, Pearce said they use an aerator to inject it into the ground.
An estimated 10,000 gallons per acre are pumped through pipes to the machine —one of the first of its kind to be used. Pearce said it was developed through a natural gas testing process and adapted for farm use.
“There’s a low smell as a result,” he said, adding while it was expensive to get going, it was the right thing to do for Pendray Farm.
This sort of investment has helped the farm diversify to support itself. It grows much of its own feed (and stores it securely to prevent odour and vermin) and has been composting for years.
Pearce added they also have plans in the works with various levels of government on water catchment projects.
It’s their way of ensuring a successful dairy operation that continues to produce some 15,000 litres of milk every second day of the week.