In late October, Yahara Pride Farms hosted its first annual Ag Innovation Days in the Northern part of the Yahara Watershed. The demonstration days were held at two locations, Waunakee and Springfield, and brought in 230 producers, implement dealers, government workers and other pertinent stakeholders. The purpose of the demonstration days was to promote and expand the usage of new innovative technologies that aid in phosphorus reduction to area agricultural producers.
At Yahara Pride Farms, we strive to reduce phosphorus runoff by improving cropping, tillage and in-field practices on agricultural lands. The farmer-led organization, along with local implement dealers, were excited to exhibit these new, innovative technologies that will help in this effort. Cutting-edge technologies on display included strip tillage, a land preparation method that enhances seed germination; vertical tillage, a land preparation method for growing crops that sizes and mixes residue with top soil to improve soil warmup in spring and maintain moisture throughout the summer; as well as vertical manure injection, a manure management method that places manure below the surface so it does not interact with runoff water during storms. At both events, attendees had the opportunity to see the technologies demonstrated in the field, while having the chance to speak with implement representatives.
In addition to the equipment described above, the Springfield location exhibited a cover crop test plot designed and managed by UW Extension and Partners in Production. At the test plot there are eight different seed types and mixes displayed that were planted on four different planting dates. The purpose of the cover crop plot is to gather data that will help provide farmers with information on the best cover crop selection and planting times for this watershed. Also, the research is helping determine if certain combinations of cover crops can replace tillage and if the cover crops affect the overall yield/profitability of the following crop.
The demonstration days were a great opportunity to share these new technologies in the Yahara Watershed. This fall alone, Yahara Pride Farms members have implemented nearly 2,500 acres of cover crops, 200 acres of strip tillage, 80 acres of vertical tillage, and 600 acres of vertical manure injection. All of these conservation practices improve soil stability, which reduces phosphorus runoff by an estimated one pound for every acre implemented. With one pound of phosphorus producing 500 pounds of algae, these conservation practices on 3,920 acres of land have the potential to prevent nearly 2 million pounds of algae.
Thank you to our sponsors who made the Ag Innovation Days possible: Carl F. Statz & Sons, Kalscheur Implement Co. Inc., McFarlanes’, Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, and Yahara WINs, as well as our cover crop plot sponsors, Partners in Production, Crop IMS, and UW Extension and our event sponsor Badgerland Financial.