Monitoring Timeline

October 2001 - October 2008


Joe and Noel Bragger and their children Rosli, John, Tessa and Allison; Dan Bragger; Hildegard Bragger


Buffalo County, WI


Dairy, Beef, Poultry, Crops
They also raise fish for local conservation organizations

Research Opportunities

Bragger Family Farm was selected as the first UW Discovery Farm because it represented the challenges of farming in the driftless region of Wisconsin; with streams at the bottom of most fields, large expanses of woodland and grasses, along with row crop production on steep fields. Braggers provided the program with a set of paired basins (ideal research basins) where common no-till farming practices could be compared to a site consisting mostly of woodland, pasture and CRP (95 percent of the basin).

Conservation Practices

Braggers were selected as the "Conservation Farmers of the Year" by the State Land and Water Conservation Board, prior to their selection as a Discovery Farm. The farm had installed thousands of feet of grassed waterways in areas of concentrated flow, built small check dams high in the watershed to reduce storm flow and allow water to slowly seep out of the woods and into the waterways. They also practice conservation tillage (no-till) for the establishment of corn, soybeans, wheat, grasses and alfalfa. In areas where water was entering the stream, the Braggers have buffers in place to allow sediment and nutrients to settle out to reduce nonpoint source pollution. The farm was also one of the first to develop and implement a nutrient management plan and assist in the development of the producer training program now offered in counties throughout the state.

Monitoring in Place

USGS Stations

Braggers have cooperated in two types of monitoring programs over the course of the UW Discovery Farms program. The initial installation was done by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with staff at UW Discovery Farms. This installation includes two flumes placed in perennial streams on both the north and south sides of the dairy facility. Like edge-of-field monitoring stations, streams monitored for the UW Discovery Farms program utilize H-flumes for the continuous measurement of discharge. The H-flumes are connected to sheet piling that is driven to the point of refusal into the stream bottom. The use of sheet piling prevents water from undercutting the flume and provides strength to prevent failure during periods of high flow. Sheet piling is also used to make the wing walls that concentrate water through the H-flume.

The location of the sample tubing in the stream H-flumes is similar to that in the edge-of-field sites - near the flume exit - but the sample tubing is approximately 1 inch above the flume floor to prevent bed load material from being pumped into the sample bottles.

Additional information on the equipment used and methods employed can be found in the USGS Methods Report available through the USGS.

WI Buffer Initiative Stations

Braggers also cooperated in the Wisconsin Buffer Initiative study under the guidance of Dr. John Norman. This study used different monitoring equipment with a lower-cost monitoring system. The buffer initiative installed a set of Coshocton Wheel Water Samplers, which serve to split down the flow of water into a manageable amount.

The data from this operation was used to develop a set of recommendations to the Department of Natural Resources on the design and need for agricultural resources.