UW Discovery Farms and Peninsula Pride Farms: Working together to improve water quality.

UW Discovery Farms and Peninsula Pride Farms: Working together to improve water quality. 

The UW Discovery Farms Program’s on-farm research is not possible without the cooperation of the farmers who open their farms to research projects. Over the past year, UW Discovery Farms has had the opportunity to partner with the farmer members of Peninsula Pride Farms, another organization seeking to improve farm management and environmental quality.

Peninsula Pride Farms was formed in 2016, born from the realization that agriculture needs to address the water quality in Door and Kewaunee counties and be proactive in preserving the environment. The 60+ members of Peninsula Pride Farms have embarked on a collective search for solutions, which includes a willingness to make changes. Peninsula Pride Farms needs quality research to understand what impact their farms are having on soil and water resources. Discovery Farms needs committed, transparent farmers who are open to research on their farms. These complimentary needs presented an opportunity for both organizations to benefit from working together.

UW Discovery Farms is currently conducting two research projects with the members of Peninsula Pride Farms. Both of these projects are part of larger regional and statewide Discovery Farms projects. 

The Nitrogen Use Efficiency project is in its second year in Door and Kewaunee counties. Farmers involved in this project have committed sections of corn fields for nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) assessments. In the 2017 growing season, 12 Peninsula Pride members have at least one field in the project. UW Discovery Farms is looking to help farmers refine their nitrogen management practices.

The Discovery Farms programs in Wisconsin and Minnesota have also recently launched a tile drainage project with monitoring sites in northeastern Wisconsin. This project monitors the amount of soil, nutrients and water leaving tile drains throughout the year. Five Peninsula Pride farmers are hosting six of the project’s monitoring sites on their farms. This research will identify how different farm management practices and systems affect tile water quality, as well as how healthy soils influence tile water quality.

The latest collaboration with Peninsula Pride was a joint field day held in early September. About 100 participants attended the Door/Kewaunee Demonstrations Farms kickoff field day at Deer Run Dairy. After taking a few moments to thank NRCS and DATCP for their valuable partnership, the attendees heard from Jamie Patton with UW-Extension at the soil pit, watched Barry Bubolz with NRCS demonstrate soil health using a rainfall simulator, and viewed low disturbance manure application equipment.

UW Discovery Farms is appreciative of the opportunity to work with such a dedicated group of farmers and is glad to know the feeling is mutual. “We are excited to learn how to improve our farms," explained Lee Kinnard of Peninsula Pride at the recent field day. "We can have productive farms and clean water, and this partnership is going to help us accomplish that. We are grateful for the access to good science and expertise we get through Discovery Farms, Extension and NRCS.”

Discovery Farms hopes that members of Peninsula Pride Farms and farmers across the state can benefit from research efforts to understand and improve soil and water resources.