UW Discovery Farms has announced that applications are now available to farmers in Dodge, Jefferson and Rock counties to become program Core Farms. Application materials can be found at www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org and are due to Discovery Farms by Feb. 14.
A Discovery Farm is an operating, commercial Wisconsin farm participating in an on-farm systems research project. The Discovery Farms Program is unique because monitoring is conducted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), while program priorities are determined by a steering committee chaired by a farmer and made up of representatives from Wisconsin farm, agribusiness, and environmental organizations.
The program is operated as a public-private partnership between UW-Madison, UW-Extension, and the state's agricultural groups. Thus far, nine core farms located in several areas of the state have been researched, analyzed and data reported to extend the lessons learned.
"Discovery Farms will be selecting three applicants within a 25 to 30 mile radius to compare livestock and grain systems with similar soil, landscape, and weather conditions," said Amber Radatz, co-director of UW Discovery Farms. "This new project will help answer questions about cropping systems that haven't been previously monitored. The location will also provide great opportunities for educational events and engagement with many different audiences. For this core farm study, farms will participate for five to seven years."
Grain or livestock systems that include any of the following characteristics are especially encouraged to apply: cropping systems that include tillage, precision agriculture tools including variable rate application, precision spray irrigation of manure, and agricultural tile drainage.
"Discovery Farms has a long-standing tradition of including and executing an important educational component with all core farms, special projects, and watershed projects. Through field days, meetings, publications, and individual contacts, lessons learned from these studies have been shared with interested parties locally, statewide, and even nationally. More recently, Discovery Farms has reached a broader audience through social media, videos, and information available on our blog and website," Radatz shared.
In exchange for their participation, the farmer will be compensated for their time and cooperation. They will receive technical and possible financial assistance with any suggested changes in facilities or management practices and assistance documenting the farm's level of environmental sustainability.
For additional information on the benefits of becoming a core farm and to apply, visit: http://www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org/AboutUs/ApplytobecomeaDiscoveryFarm.aspx or contact UW Discovery Farms staff at 715-983-5668.