MADISON - On Sept. 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the farmer-led organization, Peninsula Pride Farms, held the first demonstration farm network field day for Kewaunee and Door Counties at Deer Run Dairy, LLC.

The partnership supports a network of four farms that will demonstrate the best, conservation practices to reduce phosphorus entering the Great Lakes basin.

“NRCS has had a history of working with farmers on a watershed basis since our beginning; we have demo farm funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the key partnerships in place, but we really need the farmers, those that work the land to make a living, to use those conservation practices and be involved,” said Tom Krapf, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist. “We can take what we think is going to work, try it on the demo farms, see how it works and tweak it from there to be successful. Then, other farms build from that same success and subsequently spread successful conservation.”

Over 100 attendees were introduced to each of the four participating farms in the network.

“We want to leave our natural resources in a better condition that when we found them. The science and expertise offered to us by this partnership is going to help us do just that; it will allow us a system to really quantify scientifically exactly what our progress is,” said Lee Kinnard, Demo Farm Network Partner, Kinnard Farms.

Door Kewaunee Demo Farm Network 

•    Augustian Farms, LLC is owned and operated by Todd and Aaron Augustian in Kewaunee County. The farm is home to 1,100 cows and some young stock; the majority of the young stock are raised off-site by custom growers.

For the last several years, they put about 10 percent of their land into cover crops to help reduce soil loss, reshaped grassed waterways to meet today’s standards and planted a portion of their land in native grasses for wildlife and bee habitat. Some of the practices the Augustians will try on their demo farm fields include interseeding cover crops, applying manure to a growing crop, using management practices to handle leachate water, and seeding cover crops with manure application.

•    Brey Cycle Farm, LLC is owned by brothers, Tony and Jacob Brey, in Door County. Tony and Jacob share equally in the day-to-day management of the farm that includes 460 registered Holstein milking cows, 500 heifers and 1,200 acres.

They raise corn, alfalfa, wheat, sorghum, and use cover crops. The family is active in the community and strives to promote a positive image for agriculture. The Breys are interested in testing cover crops and low-disturbance manure injection to improve soil health and reduce nutrient losses from their farm. 

•    Deer Run Dairy, LLC is owned and operated by Duane and Derek Ducat and Dale Bogart. Their dairy has 1,600 cows and they currently farm 2,500 acres to feed their animals.

They also have a methane digester, which allows them to use separated manure solids for bedding and greatly reduces manure odors. They want to keep their soils as healthy as possible to have the best feed for cow health and performance. Deer Run Dairy will be testing low disturbance manure injection into a growing crop, cover cropping and denitrifying bioreactor for tile lines.

•    Kinnard Farms is owned and operated by Lee Kinnard and Rod Kinnard and his wife, Maureen. The farm has 6,500 cows, which are milked in a state-of-the-art 100 cow rotary parlor, as well as 11,000 acres of cropland used for growing feed and recycling nutrients.

The Kinnards base all of their farming practices on science, and adhere to a concept they refer to as “smart sustainability” to guide them as they plan for the future. It is evident in many of their farming practices, including a first-of-its-kind bedding sand recycling and drying system, to the extensive use of cover cropping and high-tech soil mapping machinery. The Kinnards will try different types of manure applications, planting into green cover crops in spring and planting cover crops.

“With these partners and farmers working together, we can do some pretty incredible things,” said Lee Kinnard.  

Once participating farms were introduced, field day participants viewed a soils pit at Deer Run Dairy, LLC and listened to Jamie Patton, UW-Extension Agriculture Agent, discuss the importance of soil health.

Attendees also saw the NRCS Rainfall Simulator in action, with Barry Bubolz, NRCS District Conservationist, demonstrating the difference cover crops can make in decreasing runoff, reducing erosion, improving soil structure, and more.

Participants also viewed multiple low-disturbance manure applications with different equipment provided by Ducat Farms Custom Work, Buttles Custom Ag, LLC and Eisentraut Ag Services.

Lastly, attendees learned about a partnering UW-Discovery Farms tile project funded through an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant.  

“Through this key collaboration, we are publicly highlighting the most effective conservation systems that work in Kewaunee and Door counties,” says Angela Biggs, NRCS State Conservationist for Wisconsin. “These demonstration field days showcase the effectiveness and adaptability of conservation practice systems that reduce erosion, sedimentation and nonpoint source pollution and that also provide education and technology transfer opportunities.”

For more information, contact Tom Krapf, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist, Programs at 608-662-4422 x 232, or Sara Walling, DATCP Chief, Nutrient Management and Water Quality Section, 608-224-4501, 

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