One farmer’s WaterWay Network experience

Article written by Dave Olson, a member of Discovery Farms’ new online discussion forum.

What Discovery Farms is doing with The WaterWay Network has a lot of promise. I enjoy reading about what other farmers are doing on the network, and I especially appreciate getting my questions answered by other farmers and experts.

I recently asked a question about using oats as a fast establishing cover crop. I was able to get an answer on The WaterWay Network from another farmer who has experience using oats. I learned from him that oats do work as a great cover crop if planted by September 15th.

Our dairy operation has been in my family for over 100 years. We own 100 milking cows, 100 young stock and are a certified organic operation. The farm is located just outside of Black River Falls, WI in a hilly valley in the Spring Creek Watershed. The hilly nature of our farm requires us to do strip cropping and keep a lot of fields in sod. This also keeps our fields relatively small.

On our farm we always keep conservation in mind. With that, we are always learning and trying new conservation techniques. This spring when the weather warms up, we are going to try to incorporate some composting. I have gotten some good information from the neighbors about composting, but I am always looking to hear about other farmers’ experiences to guide my decisions. I hope to use The WaterWay Network to access good technical and applied information.

I use the computer to receive information via email and websites, but my biggest source of information for my conservation decisions comes from years of farming experience. I think The WaterWay Network is a great tool so farmers, like myself, can benefit from the knowledge of other farmers, while sharing our own knowledge.

For farmers, especially young farmers, interacting with other farmers is very beneficial. Every farmer has a different experience to bring to the table and I think this website will be a good place for sharing.

Check out the http://waterwaynetwork.org/ for conservation information and ideas. The current featured experts are Dr. Fabián G. Fernández, Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and Drew Zelle, Engineering Specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Dr. Fernández currently works with environmental issues related to nutrient management for corn cropping system. He seeks to identify and implement nitrogen management practices that are sustainable both in terms of minimizing environmental impacts, specifically water quality, and improving crop yields. Drew will be on the discussion forum sharing his experience with soil conservation. He has spent 30 years working with farmers planning, designing, and installing conservation practices that help control soil erosion.

This article originally appeared in the latest UW Discovery Farms newsletter. If you would like to read more from the newsletter please click here.

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