A Really Valuable Day
June 16, 2017
On May 25, the Institute coordinated a farm tour for the Iowa County Farmer-Led Watershed group on two Spring Green area farms featuring managed grazing. The weather having been cool and rainy for days, a large number of farmers were among the 130 attendees. Beginning at the Butler Family Farm, Ann and David Zimrin demonstrated moving fence, discussed winter manure composting, and Cherie Nolden explained using goats for brush control. Sauk County Conservationist Serge Koenig used a rainfall simulator to demonstrate on real soils the dramatic decrease in soil erosion and increase in water holding capacity on land using certain conservation practices. “I was very impressed to see how much more water the soil retained on managed pasture, cover crops or no-till, as opposed to conventional tillage or even conventional pasture,” said Joe Meudt of Dodgeville. “I wish more farmers could see that demonstration.”
Linda and Daniel Marquardt hosted our second stop at their Hillside Pastures Farm, where Daniel showed us a beautiful oak savannah he spent much of the winter and spring restoring. We also learned how to use a grazing stick and about the rationale, challenges, and rewards of stream stabilization and crossing projects.
With our growing relationship to fishermen in the Gulf, whose challenges with nutrient build-up and biological die-off in the Gulf Dead Zone these farmers seek to help through their conservation practices, what else could we serve but…shrimp gumbo, with shrimp from “our” fishermen! Sizzling brats, too, of course, because it is Wisconsin, after all, and a delicious cole slaw prepared by one of our farmers – former Manhattan chef, Halley Wepking.
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