Farmers and lake association join forces for Green Lake Area Conservation Field Day

Wisconsin State Farmer

GREEN LAKE – To some, it may sound like an odd combination: Farmers, shoreline owners and community members gathering under one roof to learn about agricultural practices that boost soil health.

Chris and Kelly Pollack of Pollack-Vu Dairy are the hosts of the second annual Green Lake Area Conservation Field Day. The field day encourages farmers, shoreline owners and community members to attend to spur conversation and a broader understanding of soil health principles.

But for the second year in a row, a band of local organizations are planning the Green Lake Area Conservation Field Day on Saturday, August 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Chris Pollack of Pollack-Vu Dairy will host the event at W13109 Reeds Corner Rd., in Ripon.

Pollack is a fourth generation dairy farmer in the Green Lake watershed. He was one of ten chosen nationally for the American Farm Bureau leadership class. He won the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer and Agriculturist Achievement Award in 2015 and has previously hosted the Farm Breakfast.

“It's a great opportunity to bring farmers, consumers and lakeshore owners together to build relationships,” said Pollack. “The field day provides an understanding that we’re all trying to achieve the same goals.”

The original event was the idea of the Green Lake County Farm Bureau, who wanted to be proactive in highlighting the beneficial conservation practices producers were utilizing in the watershed.

Dave Wilke, last year’s field day host and former Green Lake County Farm Bureau president, approached Stephanie Prellwitz, executive director of the Green Lake Association.

“For me, the co-hosted event made complete sense when Dave pitched the idea,” said Prellwitz. “I’d go from one meeting where farmers were frustrated about being blamed for Green Lake’s water quality problems, to another meeting where lake users wondered what farmers were doing in the watershed to help Green Lake. We realized we had an opportunity to get everyone in the same room and learn together.”

Participants at last year’s Green Lake Area Conservation Field day examine a soil pit that shows a beneath-the-surface perspective of how agricultural management decisions affect the physical properties of the soil and, as a result, downstream water quality.

In just five years, landowners in the Green Lake watershed, a 107 square mile area that drains to the deepest natural lake in the state, have installed over $1.9 million in various best management practices like retention ponds, cover crops, grassed waterways and buffers.

These best management practices play a critical role in absorbing and preventing nutrients from entering Green Lake and other local waterways. Once in rivers and lakes, excess nutrients degrade water quality.

The Green Lake Area Conservation Field Day is a free event to showcase these practices to a broad audience – for farmers and landowners to consider on their own property, or for the public to gain a deeper appreciation for what is being done to improve soil and downstream water resources.

Pat Lake of the Natural Resources Conservation Service uses a runoff simulator and five isolated soil trays extracted from the field day site and the Green Lake watershed. The demonstration shows that management strategies that improve soil health result in less runoff (front buckets) and increased infiltration (back buckets). This in turn improves the quality of downstream water resources, like Big Green Lake.

Attendees will see various soil health, soil pit and rainfall simulator demonstrations. These visual examples – using soil samples extracted right on site – show how tillage, cover crops and other management practices affect the physical properties of soil, the quality and quantity of storm water runoff and, eventually, the health of downstream waterways. Equipment will also be on display and free lunch will be provided.

More information is available at or (920) 294-6480. Participants are encouraged to RSVP online or by phone to provide an accurate headcount for lunch.