Wisconsin farmers are finding that nutrient management planning leads to real benefits: Increased yields and decreased input costs give them a better bottom line, while they also reduce the chances of manure runoff and the environmental and financial penalties it causes.
Erich Wollin is the farmer every conservationist wants to see in nutrient management farmer education. He started out as a student in a class offered by Jefferson County LWCD, brought a neighbor in for the training, and hosted a manure spreader calibration workshop.
Erich farms with his father and brother in the Town of Milford. They milk 120 dairy cows and have 115 replacement heifers. They use contour strip cropping as well as some rotational grazing. Erich has a reputation in the community for being a leader and a willingness to try new things.
Jefferson County Resource Conservationist Joe Strupp first worked with Erich a few years ago on a conservation plan. He was participating in the Farmland Preservation program and wanted his plan to reflect their current cropping practices. The family recently built a new free stall and heifer barn. Joe encouraged him to take the County’s nutrient management course. He took the training in February 2012, and it turned out to be a valuable tool. He took advantage of the manure spreader calibration that is so important to making a plan work, and has now installed a manure storage system to make better use of animal waste.
The training really hit home when he and his brother bought a 40-acre parcel of land with a house on it. They split off the house and sold it to their sister. When they soil sampled the field so they could add the field to their nutrient management plan, they found it was high in phosphorus. Their sister tested the water in the well supplying the house, and it was high in nitrates. “They saw the connection between fertilizing and water quality. It was an eye opener,” Joe Strupp says.
A neighbor and friend of Erich’s heard about the class and was interested in participating. Since Erich had already completed it, he attended with his neighbor to help him out. He felt confident enough in his own ability to use the SnapPlus software to help someone develop a plan. During the session Erich was able to help the LWCD staff in answering questions of fellow farmers in developing their nutrient management plans.
“Erich is eager to be a good farmer and do the right thing. He wants to have a successful farm that also practices successful conservation,” Joe Strupp says.