USDA helps convert land for rotational grazing

Richland County NRCS Service Center

RICHLAND COUNTY - The landowners in Richland County are as diverse as its landscape. Knowing one's passions can aid a great deal in finding happiness with your selection of property here. 

For Mathew and Stephanie Kirkham, finding property in the driftless area that fit their budget came first, then, finding a way to manage it that fit their lifestyle came second.  

“We had to find the acreage we wanted in the price range we wanted, after that, we looked at our options and decided grazing was the route we wanted to go,” said Matt Kirkham. 

The Kirkhams looked to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for technical and financial assistance to convert their 50 acres of cropland to a rotational grazing system. 

Through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), they were able to complete a forage and biomass planning in 2015, and completed fencing in 2016. 

Mathew and Stephanie are excited to see their plan come together and are working towards stocking their new grazing system.

In the valley

For Greg and Nina Harmes the search for property took on a slightly different meaning. 

“When we began looking for property, we had several goals in mind. First, our family continues to uphold the hunting traditions so important to the history of Wisconsin. Second, we wanted a variety of land types, from tillable, to prairie, to woods. Third, the land had to have water on it," said Greg. 

The property the Harmes found in Richland County had all of the raw ingredients they were looking for. In teaming up with the NRCS, they have taken major steps toward making their future dream a reality. 

“We worked closely with NRCS who helped us through the paperwork and all the steps necessary to receive our EQIP funding. When it was approved we were overjoyed and quickly engaged the help of a local contractor to begin the work,” said Greg.

Their deeply cut and meandering stream with steep overhanging banks and intrusive boxelder trees was transformed into a perfect habitat for spawning trout with fast moving areas and deep pools created like artwork by the perfect placement of flat stones and boulders.

A small wetland scrape was also designed with curving sides and a couple of raised islands for waterfowl habitat, and it is already teeming with life. The Harmes can hear the frogs and toads singing late into the night.

Through EQIP, they also planted pollinator habitat to help struggling pollinators and butterflies in Wisconsin.

“We couldn’t be happier with the results and hope to continue the restoration of our beautiful land so we can enjoy it for generations to come,” said Nina.