The application deadline has passed for the first group of Discovery Farms to be selected as part of the Wisconsin Ag Stewardship Initiative. The Discovery Farms office has received applications from more than 30 qualified farms.
Discovery Farms, a program of the Wisconsin Ag Stewardship Initiative, is working to assure a healthy environment and a healthy farm economy. The producer-driven initiative, funded by the State of Wisconsin, agricultural organizations and private donations, helps producers find the most economical ways of complying with environmental regulations.
Discovery Farms will be a system of privately owned farms located throughout Wisconsin, facing various environmental challenges, and managing different farm enterprises, such as dairy, swine, poultry or crops. The program will measure how each farm affects the environment with its current management practices, and evaluate what Best Management Practices make the most environmental and economic sense when applied in different farming situations.
Discovery Farms will select 10 to 12 farms for the program”s initial research, and sign on about 30 farms within a few years. Once a farm is enrolled in the program it”s expected they will be involved five to seven years. Participating farms receive a stipend for their time devoted to the project.
The initial Discovery Farm, the Bragger family farm in Independence, was selected last year. The Braggers farm 260 acres and work with dairy cattle, beef and poultry. Equipment for water and air quality monitoring is now being installed at the Bragger farm.
Applicants for the first group of additional Discovery Farms include dairy, beef, swine, poultry, cash grain, and organic operations, all facing environmental challenges and regulation. Animal concentrations on applicants” farms range from 0.09 to 2.58 animal units per acre.
With such a large group of applications, Dennis Frame, Discovery Farms co-director says, “We”ll have an extremely difficult time picking from these farms. They”re all well qualified.” Frame, an Extension soils specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, noted that applicants not selected for this first group of Discovery Farms will be included in the pool of selections when additional farms can be added to the program.
Frame and Discovery Farms co-director Fred Madison, a soils scientist at the UW-Madison”s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, will make an initial visit to applicants” farms in June and July. The Discovery Farms Steering Committee will then narrow the pool of applicants and the committee members will visit those farms a second time and make selections. Frame hopes to announce the new Discovery Farms before Farm Progress Days in September, where the selected farms will be featured in the Wisconsin Ag Stewardship Initiative booth.
For more information in Discovery Farms, contact Dennis Frame at (715) 983-2257 or Shannon Hayes, WASI communications coordinator, at (608) 527-3462, firstname.lastname@example.org