A commentary by Ben Peterson, a WMMB Board Member representing District 1.
'One size does not fit all' when it comes to best management practices for Wisconsin's diverse agricultural landscapes. From Wisconsin's northeastern District 1 I know the geography of my farm in Grantsburg, does not look the same as yours.
America's Dairyland encompasses a wide range of natural resources and agricultural enterprises and with that comes environmental challenges. As an industry we need to study these challenges, and find solutions that make sense, environmentally and economically, that work on Wisconsin farms.
To address these challenges of different landscapes and geography, Wisconsin's Discovery Farm Program started in 2001, as a farmer-led program to determine the economic and environmental effects of agricultural practices on a diverse group of Wisconsin farms.
UW Discovery Farms also is an advocate and educator among the agricultural community, consumers, researchers and policy-makers to better identify and implement effective environmental management practices compatible with profitable agriculture.
Technology, believe it or not, is at the wheel, driving environmental improvements. With sound research, monitoring systems, and new technology, we can be the most effective and efficient as possible. I truly believe in finding the best possible solution that will work on our farm.
We've been farming this land for a long time and want to make certain we are doing everything we can to preserve and improve it. We have incorporated vertical tillage, mineral distribution and yield monitoring.
In recent years, we have moved the farm to vertical tillage with GPS controlled injection of manure as a way to get the most nutrients to the plant at the right time and without a lot of disruption of the soil. Throughout the growing season, we also take advantage of aerial photography to monitor the photosynthesis process on the crops.
Think drones are cool? We do too. Just be sure to follow the new rules and register them with the Federal Aviation Administration. Here's the website for more information: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/.
Developing a cost effective, efficient and well documented system is crucial when we are dealing with compliance of regulatory programs.
Consider UW Discovery Farms as your technology resource, we have been utilizing their expertise to improve our farm for over 10 years. For the state's natural resources and agriculture to thrive in the future, the Discovery Farm program provides solutions based on real scientific data—not myths or assumptions.
The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has long recognized that farmers are the original environmentalists and has been a sponsor of UW Discovery Farms from the beginning as a way to support the environmentally sound farming practices of all types of farming.
With sound research and a variety of projects being conducted across Wisconsin, you will find their website helpful: www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org.