Discovery Farms – Proactive progress for today and beyond

Tom Bressner (front right) joins a few other Wisconsin steering committee members for a group photo.

Article written by Tom Bressner, Discovery Farms Wisconsin Steering Committee Member and Executive Director of the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association.

As a native of Central Illinois growing up on a small corn, soybean, alfalfa, and dairy farm, I was used to farming where it is black, flat, and almost 100% commercial fertilizer. Even though my family milked a small herd of registered Guernsey cows, we were one of the last around to include livestock in the farming operation. Spreading manure on the land was the exception to the prairie landscape.

And then it happened… six years ago, I came to Wisconsin and discovered a new world. I quickly discovered the deep sense of pride farmers have in Badger country. I also learned about the proud heritage of “America’s Dairyland”.

Let me tell you one other thing I learned when I came to Wisconsin. I learned about Discovery Farms. I was amazed to find that a producer driven organization was so proactive in research dealing with nutrient management issues. I learned about the numerous studies being done around the state, concerning edge-of-field monitoring, tile drainage, winter manure management, and how best management practices can be used to minimize the movement of nutrients. Among tons of other studies, Discovery Farms even studied water coming from bunker silos and the effectiveness of leachate systems. When asked to serve as a member of the Discovery Farms Steering Committee, it didn’t take much thought before I replied with a resounding “yes”.

Now let me tell you one other thing I learned about Discovery Farms. This is something you might not pick up on by only reading their articles and research. Many organizations are run by good people that work hard and do a good job. But for the leadership of Discovery Farms, it is more than a job – it is a passion. Attend a Discovery Farms event or simply talk to them at a meeting, and you will discover the energy and dedication that they bring to their research. Every day, Discovery Farms plans on making a difference… and they do. Talk about a proud heritage. Discovery Farms is a tremendous asset to production agriculture in the State of Wisconsin.

One last thought. As the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, a big part of my job is lobbying legislators. While many of the issues I discuss with legislators are controversial and impossible to find bi-partisan support, Discovery Farms is an exception to the rule. Think about it – who could possibly oppose water quality and research being done to keep it that way? I have spent many hours in the Capitol Building distributing copies of Discovery Farms’ Year in Review and talking about funding for their research and projects. And regardless if I am talking to the most rural farmer legislator or the downtown big city legislator, they all applaud the proactive work being done by Discovery Farms, and support it whole-heartedly.

If you aren’t inspired by the work of Discovery Farms yet, it is time to come on board and show your support. It is time for everyone to recognize the value that Discovery Farms brings to agriculture in the State of Wisconsin. It is indeed: Proactive Progress for Today and Beyond.

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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