ACES grad helps farmers improve their milk yields
Like many people, Archie Devore, ’65 ACES, PHD ’70 ACES, has stepped up his travel since he retired. In 2006, just days after he left his consulting job in the dairy industry, he flew to Russia, where he spent two and a half weeks advising farmers on how to improve milk yields by adding protein to their cows’ diets.
A decade later, the Lincoln, Neb., resident has completed 28 such assignments through Farmer to Farmer, a federal program that pairs experienced agricultural volunteers from the U.S. with farmers in developing countries. And, with trips to Nepal and the former Soviet republic of Georgia coming up, Devore shows no signs of slowing down.
His childhood on a dairy farm in eastern Illinois—along with the two degrees in dairy science that he holds from Illinois—make him an exceptionally knowledgeable ambassador. “I witnessed the transition from hand milking on the farm that I grew up on, progressing through machine milking, pipeline milking and bulk cooling of milk on the farm,” he says. “That puts me in a good position to advise people who may still be milking by hand on what they’ve got to look forward to.”
He’s showed iPad videos of machine milking to dairy trainers in Bangladesh, offered advice to young Nepalese farmers on milking cows bred to have small teats, and helped launch a Kyrgystani yogurt operation. Returning to Russia, he found the farmers he had worked with on that first trip had boosted their milk yields from 10 liters to 19 liters per cow and beyond.
As an agricultural scientist, Devore appreciates measurable results. But the numbers are not what keep him going back. “It’s the people—their eagerness to learn new concepts and to share about themselves. It’s rewarding to establish those relationships,” he says. These days, social media helps preserve those bonds after he leaves, through photos and updates he and his contacts share online. “That’s basically the whole purpose of Farmer to Farmer,” he says. “To establish and develop trust.”
Farming provides an ideal opportunity to build cultural bridges, Devore notes. He’s worked side by side with people of different backgrounds and faiths—including Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Russian Orthodox—tending to different breeds of cattle. “But the science of milk production, milk secretion and milk removal from the cow is the same,” he says. “That’s the commonality dairymen have all over the world.”