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Discovery Farms Project Looking For Solutions, Cooperators

To answer producers” calls for help in dealing with current and coming environmental regulations, Discovery Farms are being recruited to provide on-farm partnerships that will help to determine cost-effective best-management practices.

A part of the Wisconsin Ag Stewardship Initiative, the Discovery Farms program takes a real-world approach to finding the most economical solutions for farmers working to reduce the environmental impacts of their operations. The whole-farm system will be looked at on every Discovery Farm to determine how each management component affects the whole system and the system”s effect on the environment.

The goal of Discovery Farms is not only to help farmers find the best solutions to dealing with environmental regulations, but also to shape future environmental regulations to fit what”s practical for Wisconsin, in order to maintain a viable agricultural economy.

Currently one Discovery Farm has been selected, located in Independence. This farm, operated by the Bragger family, consists of dairy, beef, poultry and cropping enterprises. The Discovery Farms program is envisioned to include 25 to 30 farms total, spanning Wisconsin”s diverse soil types, physical and water characteristics, and cropping and livestock enterprises.

Discovery Farms is a producer-driven project, with a largely producer-based advisory board. The Wisconsin Ag Stewardship Initiative is a partnership with cooperation from the State of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin system, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and UW-Extension, as well as the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Wisconsin Farm Bureau. The Discovery Farms program is headed by nutrient management specialist Dennis Frame and soil scientist Fred Madison, both with the Department of Soil Science at the UW-Madison”s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The Discovery Farms application deadline is May 1. For an application or more information about the Wisconsin Ag Stewardship Initiative and the Discovery Farms program, contact Dennis Frame, (715) 299-0081; Fred Madison, (608) 263-4004; or Shannon Hayes, (608) 527-3462.