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Maple Ridge Dairy | Stratford, WI

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Maple Ridge Dairy LLC is a 1700 cow dairy, farming 3900 acres with a typical crop rotation of alfalfa, corn, soybeans, and some winter wheat. While we are still learning, we are in our fourth season of planting cover crops. This year we planted 600 acres of cover crops, 800 acres of no-till, and used LDMI on 800 acres. Maple Ridge Dairy is in the Big Eau Pleine watershed in central Wisconsin. Our soils are heavy and have mild slopes with significant surface drainage into the local streams and rivers. 

Studies have shown that even though we have mild slopes, we are contributing very significant amounts of phosphorus and sediment to the waters, and it does not take a scientist to know solid brown water is not good. It has been said that we can’t make cover crops and no-till work in our area because of our short growing season, heavy soils, and manure application requirements. But we are finding out through the EPPIC farmer peer group that there are other farms similar to ours successfully utilizing these practices on a majority of their acres. We also cannot ignore the potential negative financial aspects of adopting new practices and knowing how to make the changes in our specific area without any financial implications is crucial. 

 

We need to learn from each other and continue to get more and more acres protected from weather events with the ultimate goal of 100% covered at all times. We cannot do this alone without major financial implications. We need to learn from each other about what works, and more importantly, what does not. My roles in this project are to help peer learning groups become successful, engage other farmers in conservation practices, and participate in demonstration fields. This group is essential for our goals!!

Socha Farms | Edgar, WI

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Socha Farms raises calves from birth to about 8 months. We grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa/grass hay, oats, and winter rye on 490 acres and have about 15 acres of pasture.  All of the soybeans, most of the corn, and winter rye are sold as cash crops. We started no-tilling and using cover crops in 2014. Today, the farm is fully no-till, and we are also doing cover crops on 100% of our row crops.  We are now doing some custom no-tilling for neighboring farms and selling winter rye for cover crop seed.  We have hosted no-till and cover crop field days on our farm for the past 3 years to show others the benefits and challenges of no-tilling and cover crops. 

I enjoy the opportunity to share with other farmers the benefits of no-tilling and cover crops, including how they can improve soil health and water quality while still being profitable. I am a member of EPPIC with the goal to build and save our soil; to have clean and healthy water for the next generation; and to host peer groups for farmers to learn from each other. I also have demonstration fields and have hosted a field day and peer groups at my farm. My role in EPPIC is to continue supporting EPPIC in these ways, and to talk to other farmers in the community about no-till and cover crops.

Miltrim Farms | Athens, WI

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Miltrim Farms is a 4th generation Dairy farm in western Marathon County, WI. My father, Martin Mueller, was practicing soil conservation with strip farming starting in the late 1950s and barn yard runoff systems since the 1970s. Our dairy has grown to 2200 milk cows, and we crop around 5000 acres of corn for grain, silage, and alfalfa; half of which are in the Eau Pleine watershed. We have been using some form of cover crops and no-till since 2013. We currently have 2500 no-till acres, 2700 acres in cover crops, and use low disturbance manure injector on 3500 acres. and We are seeing a positive difference in our soil health and soil erosion on the acres we have done and every year we are adding more and more acres to those practices. When we were approached to be a part of the EPPIC group we were excited to maybe help bring what we have learned to other farmers in this watershed to encourage more adoption. Our role now in this group is to be a part of peer group meetings, and as a farm that hosts demonstration fields and field days.

Red Door Family Farm  | Athens, WI

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Together with my wife, Stacey Botsford, I own and operate Red Door Family Farm in Athens, WI. We are a first-generation vegetable farm, growing about 12 acres of certified Organic vegetables. We sell mostly direct to consumer through CSA, Farmers Market, and an online store, with increasing wholesale accounts going to other farms and distributors. We are diversified, growing over 150 different varieties and succession plantings of different fruit and vegetable crops, as well as maple syrup, mushrooms, eggs, broilers, and pork. We strive to be good stewards of the land. Including conversion of 60 percent of the farm to perennial cover, restoring native prairie in highly erodible areas, and extensive use of cover crops to build soil health and organic matter, minimize erosion, and retain nutrients. We have planted in excess of 2000 trees to minimize wind erosion, created beneficial pollinator habitat, maintain wildlife corridors, we make and use compost and other slow release/stable forms of fertilizer. Over the past 8 years we have greatly improved the fertility and tilth of our soil in both fields and fallow areas.

Cavern Point Farm  | Marshfield, WI

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Cavern Point Farm is located in Western Marathon County. We chose managed grazing for our beef operation because it was the most profitable business model for a startup operation and continues to be after we’ve been established for several years. After eight years we have watched our land thrive under the managed-grazing system and have grown to appreciate its reviving effects on the soil, water, and wildlife as well. The transition from intensively managed row crops to perennial pastures began in fall of 2015 with the installation of high tensile fence and a year-round permanent water system for rotational grazing. The transition was complete in spring of 2018 and the operation now consists of 80 acres of perennial pastures, along with an additional 10 acres of poorly managed horse pasture being leased from a neighbor that we are slowly improving with managed grazing. We own a herd of red and black angus consisting of cow/calf pairs and steers that are finished for direct-marketed beef that is sold off the farm. The beef herd is fed 100% grass all year and is outwintered on pasture by bale grazing. 

We are committed to this project because we feel strongly that farming practices that are good for the land are also good for farming communities. We want other farm families to experience practices that revive their land and make them more profitable. We believe that managed grazing is a practice that not only protects our resources, but also protects family farms, and provides opportunities for people to get into agriculture. My role in the project is to help the public recognize managed grazing as one of many practices that can reduce the environmental impact of livestock agriculture. Furthermore, my role is to help farmers - established and startup, transition to managed grazing and experience all the benefits that the practice provides.

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