Farmers, agribusinesses, other partners gather to learn about nutrient management, precision ag

watershed-wide conference

Attendees listen to a presentation

The 3rd Annual Watershed-Wide Conference presented by Yahara Pride Farms was a huge success with a full room of over 100 attendees learning about nutrient management and precision agriculture. Read below for highlights from our speakers’ presentations.

USGS Data Findings from 2014

Todd Stuntebeck, physical scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, shared take-home points from 2014 based on water quality monitoring data. One interesting point is that USGS found that more than half of the total phosphorus entering the Yahara Watershed in 2014 was delivered in 12 days during early-spring snowmelt. Todd recommended using the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast (www.manureadvisorysystem.wi.gov/app/runoffrisk), which can help farmers plan ahead to avoid spreading during times like these when risk is high. The tool shows the 10-day risk of runoff occurring based on precipitation, soil moisture, and individual basin characteristics.

Yahara Pride Farms Year in Review

YPF’s Conservation Resource Manager, Dennis Frame, shared the achievements of our 2014 cost-share and certification programs. See page 3 for our 2014 program results. Dennis emphasized how important it is for farmers to speak up in the discussion on water quality. The agriculture community has ideas to share and can be a positive voice.

What’s Next for the Yahara WINs Pilot Project

Dave Taylor, Director of Ecosystem Services at the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and Director of Special Projects for Yahara WINs, who also serves on the YPF Conservation Board, shared what will be coming next for Yahara WINs as the pilot project wraps up. Yahara WINs is a collaborative approach to reducing phosphorus runoff and a major funding source for cost-share practices, led by MMSD. During the 2016 transition year, Yahara WINs will continue to fund conservation practices as usual. By 2017, it is expected that the full-scale adaptive management project will be in place throughout the watershed, with expanded funding.

New County Harvestable Buffer Cost-share Program

Kevin Connors, Director of the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department, announced a new harvestable buffer cost-share program that will be available to area farmers in 2015. Croplands located in the Yahara and Badfish Creek Watershed that are adjacent to perennial or intermittent streams are eligible. Buffers can be 30 to 120 feet wide, and can qualify for a $400-450 per acre payment each year depending on the contract length. Contact the Dane County Land Conservation Division for more information at (608) 224-3730.

YPF Cover Crop Test Plot Research Results

Heidi Johnson, Crop and Soils Agent at UW-Madison, provided a report on the economic findings of the 2013-2014 YPF Cover Crop Test Plot. When analyzing the data, Heidi focused on identifying cover crops that paid for themselves both in the short and long run. For more in-depth information on the results of the Cover Crop Test Plot research, please see this month’s Forward Farmer cover article.

WinField’s R7 Satellite Imagery Tool

Wrapping up the conference was Wendall Boehlje, Agriculture Technology Specialist at WinField, a division of Land O’ Lakes. Wendall presented information on a satellite imagery tool called the R7 that helps farmers detect field data. Through this technology, farmers are able increase their efficiency by using zone maps generated by field data to place crop hybrids where they will perform best.

Thank you for helping make the 3rd Annual Watershed-wide Conference a valuable learning opportunity. We especially want to thank our speakers, the farmers who attended, and our generous sponsors: Badgerland Financial, Dairy Business Association, Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, Digested Organics, Carl F. Statz & Sons, Wagner Insurance, Willy Street Co-op, and Yahara WINs.

The room was full

The room was full

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