After 12 years of monitoring water quality on farms with manure applied to forage crops, the UW Discovery Farms® Program is adding a grain based farm. The Roger Rebout and Sons Farm, a 3,000 acre cash grain operation, is the first of several new core farms in Rock County, Wisconsin.
This new research initiative, known as the core farm cluster, will involve multiple farms located within 20 miles of each other. “Operating monitoring sites on a cluster of farms gives us a unique opportunity to understand what is driving losses in one system compared to another. This allows us to make better management suggestions for each farming system,” explained Amber Radatz, UW Discovery Farms co-director.
“Not only is this new cluster approach exciting,” Radatz explained, “monitoring a cash grain system is equally thrilling. Cash grain systems are incredibly important to both Wisconsin’s economy and its water resources. It is time to provide better information for our state’s grain focused farmers.”
The Roger Rebout & Sons Farm is pleased to host two monitoring sites. “We always worried about non-point pollution and would like to make sure that what we are doing is working for our operation,” explained Mary Rebout. “We have been looked at in our community as progressive farmers and are always looking to improve our operation.”
Monitoring sites on the Rebout Farm will track sediment and nutrient loss from farm fields rotating between two years of strip-till corn and one year of no-till soybeans. Commercial fertilizer is the only nutrient application on monitored fields. During the second three year rotation one site will establish cover crops so losses can be compared between it and the paired site without cover crops.
Results from the core farm cluster will be shared with participants throughout the monitoring period. By having their losses quantified, participating farmers can begin to look at their systems to see where management tweaks are needed. In addition, farmers can understand how their losses compare to other systems. This will give them a clear picture of which strategies might be best suited to their landscape.
About UW Discovery Farms For over 12 years, UW Discovery Farms has worked with Wisconsin farmers to identify the water quality impacts of different farming systems around the state. The program, which is part of UW-Extension, is under the direction of a farmer-led steering committee and takes a real-world approach to finding the most economical solutions to agriculture’s environmental challenges. If you are interested in learning more about UW Discovery Farms and their core farm cluster, visit www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org or contact Amber Radatz at email@example.com.