Dan Brick is planting a greater variety of crops at his 900-acre farm near Greenleaf. In addition to corn, he has put down seed for clover, vetch, barley and radishes – but in the same field where the corn was already planted.
To say the least, he’s got his neighbors very curious.
They all got a chance to see what he’s doing with this novel form of cover crop planting Aug. 9 when he hosted “Sunset on the Farm” as part of the group Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Network. The Sustain the Bay Fund within the Community Foundation was one of the lead sponsors with a $1,000 grant. Sustain the Bay is seeking to fund real-world solutions to reduce the runoff of phosphorus and other nutrients into our treasured waterways. That might involve buying or leasing a piece of farm equipment area farmers can try to see if it reduces runoff. It grew out of former U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble’s annual “Save the Bay” farm tours, which highlighted innovative conservation methods.
Farm tours, kids’ activities, displays by nonprofit organizations and, of course, food were all part of the day on the Brickstead Dairy, Brick’s fifth-generation farm.
“I think we opened at lot of eyes from the general public and they will think differently when the go by a farm,” Brick said. “The soil labs and stations we had I hope will inspire young people to get involved in soil conservation. The farmers on the tours — I hope we can get them to think outside the box of how we can implement cover crops into their cropping plan.”
Brent Petersen, of the Brown County Land and Water Conservation Office and a guide for the tractor tours, said other conservation methods Brick uses include no-till practices, sand bedding for his cows and spreading manure after the corn is planted. U.S. Geologic Service edge-of-field monitoring stations that have been analyzing runoff from his fields since 2014 have documented reductions in phosphorus runoff – a key factor in algae blooms in area waterways – of as much as 70%.
Learn more about the fund at www.sustainthebay.org.
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