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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Kewaunee water woes linked to animals, people

By MaryBeth Matzek
MAA Editor

Research shows that human and bovine waste is finding its way into wells in Kewaunee County.

Dr. Mark Borchardt, a microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, shared those findings during a presentation earlier this year at the 2017 Midwest Manure Summit in Green Bay. In a study funded by the Department of Natural Resources, Borchardt and his team used DNA sequencing to identify bacteria and pathogens in different Kewaunee County wells to determine if they came from cows or people.

The county has been ground zero in Wisconsin in the battle between some residents and large-scale farmers. In 2014, six environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate groundwater contamination in the county. The DNR then brought together farmers, neighbors, environmental groups and government officials to find strategies to reduce groundwater pollution risk.

“There has been a lot of finger pointing and politics going on regarding water in Kewaunee County so we took a closer look at this issue to determine the source of the pollution,” Borchardt said. “The evidence shows both people and cows are contaminating the groundwater in Kewaunee County.”

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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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