Demonstration network focuses on farm sustainability

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

Farmers in Kewaunee and southern Door counties are teaming up with multiple partners to study and demonstrate conservation practices to protect groundwater and surface water in the region.

The Door-Kewaunee Demonstration Farm Network is a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Door and Kewaunee Land Conservation Departments and Peninsula Pride Farms, a farmer-led organization. The network was officially launched with a Sept. 7 field day at the Deer-Run Dairy LLC near Kewaunee, one of four farms participating in the network. The other participants include: Augustian Farms LLC in Kewaunee, Brey Cycle Farm LLC in Sturgeon Bay and Kinnard Farms in Casco.

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Proposed manure rule change worries farmers

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

If the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources restricts manure application in certain regions of the state, farmer Rob Kiehneau is afraid his small Door County dairy will close.

Kiehneau, who milks between 60 and 70 cows and grows crop at his Egg Harbor farm, said about 75 percent of his farm rests on land with less than 2 feet of soil to bedrock. Under proposed changes to NR 151, farms with less than 2 feet of soil to bedrock would not be able to spread manure.

“We feel we do a good job with our applications. This rule change would make it hard for us to operate in our present location,” Kiehneau said during a hearing Friday on the proposed rule change at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. An estimated 30 people spoke at the hearing, which was simulcast in Madison.

The DNR announced the proposed changes to manure spreading rules in certain parts of Wisconsin to address decades-old groundwater quality issues in areas with Karst topography. Karst topography features shallow soils over heavily fractured limestone bedrock, which makes it easier for water and livestock waste from the surface and human waste from aging septic systems to enter the groundwater.

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Planning for potential business disasters vital

By Dave Coggins
For MAA
Recent news showcased how more than 50 dairy farms were nearly devastated by the Canadian trade policies that forced Grassland Dairy Products to drop them as patrons. While that roller-coaster experience has ended with nearly all of the affected farms finding new processors, it should serve as a wake-up call for every farm owner to plan for the unthinkable.
Most farmers are well-equipped in terms of insuring their business against potential acts of nature. But many are not so prepared for other types of disasters that warrant having a “Plan B” if they want their business to survive.
While it’s human nature to want to avoid the unthinkable, planning for all types of disasters is a crucial part of farming operations.

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Planning for potential business disasters is vital

By Dave Coggins
For MAA

Recent news showcased how more than 50 dairy farms were nearly devastated by the Canadian trade policies that forced Grassland Dairy Products to drop them as patrons. While that roller-coaster experience has ended with nearly all of the affected farms finding new processors, it should serve as a wake-up call for every farm owner to plan for the unthinkable.

Most farmers are well-equipped in terms of insuring their business against potential acts of nature. But many are not so prepared for other types of disasters that warrant having a “Plan B” if they want their business to survive.

While it’s human nature to want to avoid the unthinkable, planning for all types of disasters is a crucial part of farming operations.

Continue reading “Planning for potential business disasters is vital”

Blueberry growers under intense pressure

By Nikki Kallio
MAA

When Elizabeth White teamed up with the USDA in 1910 to grow blueberry hybrids on her New Jersey farm, it was the beginning of an industry that would eventually have a notable impact on the southwest lakeshore of Michigan.

Growers eventually discovered Michigan’s acidic soil, combined with the moderating effect of the lake on climate, was ideal for blueberry crops. By World War II, the state had a sizable blueberry industry that continued to expand, said Mark Longstroth, Michigan State University Extension small-fruit educator.

In 2014, the state ranked first in acreage of blueberry production. Michigan is consistently one of the top producers of blueberries in the nation, along with Washington and Georgia, according to the USDA.

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Yahara Pride successfully reduces phosphorus levels

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

By making changes to their farm practices during the past several years, Yahara Pride Farms members dramatically reduced the amount of phosphorous entering the Yahara River watershed. But while they’ve been successful, members say there is plenty of work left to do.
“Five years ago, we had no idea we would be here,” said Bob Uphoff, owner of Uphoff Ham & Bacon Farm and vice-chair of the Yahara Pride Farms Conservation Board. “As we keep making changes and improvements, who knows where we will be in five years?”
Yahara Pride Farms held its annual watershed-wide conference on March 2 to share information and research on the different steps being taken to decrease the amount of phosphorus in the watershed and to celebrate its successes.

Continue reading “Yahara Pride successfully reduces phosphorus levels”

Yahara Pride successfully reduces phosphorus levels

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

By making changes to their farm practices during the past several years, Yahara Pride Farms members dramatically reduced the amount of phosphorous entering the Yahara River watershed. But while they’ve been successful, members say there is plenty of work left to do.
“Five years ago, we had no idea we would be here,” said Bob Uphoff, owner of Uphoff Ham & Bacon Farm and vice-chair of the Yahara Pride Farms Conservation Board. “As we keep making changes and improvements, who knows where we will be in five years?”
Yahara Pride Farms held its annual watershed-wide conference on March 2 to share information and research on the different steps being taken to decrease the amount of phosphorus in the watershed and to celebrate its successes.
With phosphorus a key issue of concern, farmers use a mix of cover crops, low disturbance manure injection and strip tillage to cut down how much of it entered the watershed.  Research and data collection show it is working.
According to estimates in 2016, cover crops reduced 6,572 pounds of phosphorus from entering the waterways while low-disturbance manure injection prevented another 1,080 pounds from entering the system. Strip tillage kept out another 990 pounds of phosphorus out of local waterways.

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