Red Cedar Demonstration Farm

Promoting Soil Health and Water Quality through Education

Why was the Demonstration Farm formed?

Dunn County has experienced heavy rains during the spring time these last few years. The result of these rainfalls has re-emphasized to farmers the importance of conserving their most important fixed asset – the soil on their farmland.  Farmers as well as community members have expressed concerns regarding soil erosion, improving conservation practices and better water management to members of the Dunn County Board of Supervisors and government agency staff.  These concerns were discussed last year and have resulted in a new partnership being formed to better promote soil health and water quality through education.

The Partnership believes that these benefits can be demonstrated at the Red Cedar Demonstration Farm:

  • Heightened awareness of limited and no tillage practices and use of cover crops as effective soil and water conservation practices;
  • Demonstrate potential for increased crop yields utilizing fewer inputs, including commercial fertilizer application, fuel for implements, etc;
  • Demonstrate increased water efficiency and improve water quality within Red Cedar Watershed;
  • Reduce impact of off-site movement of soil, runoff and erosion control of farmland.

“Enhancing soil health is one of the most important things we can do for this and for future generations. That’s because enhancing soil health allows us to simultaneously address so many of our most pressing natural resource needs. It allows us to address water quality, farm profitability, resilience to extreme weather, economic risk, wildlife needs, and many others,” reported Wayne Honeycutt, Ph.D., Deputy Chief for Science and Technology of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

What is it?

The Dunn County Soil and Water Health Partner ship is just that – a partnership. It is made up of many community members who are all dedicated to our mission. It was formed last fall after several conversations among our staff on how we can help clientele in Dunn County.  The steering committee members include:

Mark Denk: Farm Business Production Management Instructor from Chippewa Valley Technical College, (715) 577-3036,mdenk1@cvtc.edu

Daniel Prestebak: County Conservationist for Dunn County Division Land and Water Conservation, (715) 232-1496, Ext. 2, dprestebak@co.dunn.wi.us

John Sippl: District Conservationist from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), (715) 232-2614, john.sippl@wi.usda.gov

Katie Wantoch: Agricultural Agent for University of Wisconsin—Extension in Dunn County, (715) 232-1636   katie.wantoch@ces.uwex.edu

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Goals and Background

Dunn County once had a School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy from 1902 to 1957 and then continued to have a county farm until the mid-1980s. Since that time the county farmland has been managed by The Neighbors of Dunn County standing committee of the Dunn County Board of Supervisors (former Dunn County Health Care Center) and the land was rented to Ron Prochnow.

During one of the discussions last year, members talked about how it would be ideal to be able to demonstrate best management practices for soil and water conservation rather than simply talking about it.  These discussions lead to the Partnership submitting a proposal to the standing committee of The Neighbors of Dunn County for rental of the farmland with the goals of:

  • Demonstrating soil and water conservation best management practices for the Dunn County community, area farmers and CVTC students
  • Providing an opportunity for soil and water conservation education, on-farm research and field demonstrations.

The standing committee approved our proposal in December and members have been working diligently on how we can best achieve our goals. CVTC is the lessor of this farmland and will be responsible for the management of the crops, including a farmland rental payment to Dunn County. The steering committee members of the Partnership will continue to meet and guide the management of the property during the terms of the 5 year lease agreement. This farmland is located within the Red Cedar River Watershed, which runs through a large portion of northwest Wisconsin, so the Partnership has named this project the Red Cedar Demonstration Farm.

2015 Summary Report

  • During 2015, field demonstrations were established and on-farm research projects were conducted
  • Grid soil sampling was conducted in every acre of the 150 acres. Using the data collected, a comprehensive soil report was developed. This enables students and researchers to evaluate the farm fields and the different effects nutrients have on crops
  • Lime was applied at variable rates to address pH issues
  • Farm fields were established
    • The large field is set up on a corn, soybean, small grain rotation
    • The small field is set up on a corn, soybean, small grain, full season cover crop rotation
  • A weather station was purchased using a UW-Extension Northwest Regional Innovative Grant in the amount of $2,500. The weather station is located on the farm and records temperature, rainfall amounts, dew point,relative humidity, and soil moisture levels. Data is collected every 10 minutes and sent to a website where it can be viewed and analyzed
  • A SARE Grant was also awarded to the program to help fund the 2015 Field Day and establish cover crops
  • 2015 Field Day: The Farm Field Day, held on September 2, 2015, was a day for community members to come and observe the different soil and water conservation practices being implemented at the farm.  They were able to tour the farm as well as view and discuss the different cover crops, soil pits, and the research projects happening on the farm.  The goal of the Field Day is to open the farm up to the public so they can see how the Partnership is benefiting them and answering their questions. It gives the community a chance to learn more about the farm and the progress that is being made

CVTC utilizes an agreement with local John Deere dealer, Tractor Central, and local Case IH dealer, Value Implement, for the use of tractors, tillage, planting and harvesting equipment. CVTC students in their AgriScience classes will have an opportunity to use the top-of-the-line field equipment and get some hands-on education in conditions they see in real-world situations.

A comprehensive report is available in PDF format. 2015 RCDF Annual Report (pdf) 

2016 Summary Report

HOBO Weather Station

In 2015, the Dunn County office received a UW-Extension Northwest Regional Innovative Grant in the amount of $2,500 to fund the purchase of a  weather monitoring station. This station is located at the Red Cedar Demonstration Farm and tracks rainfall amounts, temperature, relative humidity, dew point, leaf wetness and soil moisture levels. This data is accessible to the public via this link – HOBO Weather Monitoring Station Website

A summarized collection of the 2015 data is available in PDF format

 June-August Weather Data 

 

 

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