More than 90 farmers, crop consultants, county conservation staff and agricultural business representatives gathered in Eden recently for a field day hosted by the Sheboygan River Progressive Farmers.
The SRPF is a producer-led watershed group of about 20 farmers who have come together to explore farming strategies that lessen environmental impact, improve soil health, sustain farm profitability and improve water quality in the Sheboygan River Basin.
The field day was the group’s first public event and an opportunity to share the work it has been doing with peers, colleagues and the community.
Joe Wagner, president of the SRPF, kicked off the day by thanking field day host Clint Hodorff, and together the two explained the work of SRPF and why they feel it is important for farmers to be involved in such efforts.
After lunch, attendees split into groups and rotated among four stations where they learned about reduced tillage practices, inter-seeding cover crops, soil health and SRPF membership.
At his station, Hodorff displayed vertical till equipment and discussed tillage and cover crop trials his farm conducted last fall. He also showed photos of low disturbance manure injection into cover crops this past spring.
At the second station, Dan Roehrborn, an SRPF member and fifth-generation farmer from Sheboygan Falls, and Mike Haedt, president of Biomass Sales & Consulting, led a presentation on inter-seeding cover crops and management considerations when planting into a standing crop.
Station three was manned by Mike Patin, a district conservationist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Mike Ballweg, a crops and soil agriculture agent for Sheboygan County UW-Extension. They discussed the basic principles of soil health and how following them can lead to cleaner water and healthier crops.
To illustrate their point, they used a rainfall simulator to demonstrate how managing soil in different ways impacts its ability to infiltrate water and provide it to the crop during the growing season.
The fourth station gave attendees the opportunity to talk to current SRPF members about the organization’s goals, membership benefits and cost-share opportunities.
In addition to providing funding to support SRPF’s efforts, The Nature Conservancy’s Paige Frautschy provides technical expertise and project coordination to the group.
“Farmers are stewards of the land, and the actions that take place on their fields are integral to protecting our water,” Frautschy said. “This group showed they are committed to conservation by sharing their knowledge with other farmers and encouraging them to look for ways to improve soil and water conservation on their own farms.”
For more information about the SRPF, visit http://srpfarmers.com.