It’s springtime here in southwestern Wisconsin, and the weather is as unpredictable as ever for Wisconsin. As I write this, we have already seen temps as high as 90 and now today back in the 50s. It has been an interesting spring.
With warm temperatures in March, many thought we might get an early spring, but we were dead wrong, as we have had several weeks of cloudy, very cool temperatures and even a few evenings of below-freezing temperatures. It was late into April before much fieldwork began. To say the least, we have had a very late spring; however, we have prevailed. Much of the corn is now planted and first-crop hay harvest is just a few days away.
It is my privilege to share a group update since we were last together. We had a great annual meeting back in February. Highlighting the event was Dr. Paul Mitchell, professor and extension Specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who presented on commodity and input costs. The group also heard from researchers and presenters from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville on how farmers saw improved soil health and water quality after implementing conservation practices.
As you all know, the pilot project with Grande has garnered LASA great exposure, and Doug Thomas from Houston Engineering was on hand to give us some updated results from the project. We’ve got some great numbers to show continuous improvement. Please check out our website to see these improvements, along with the first two years’ results.
This year, we continue to have exciting opportunities for our members. In mid-May, a few other members and I attended the final Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study findings held in Lancaster. LASA participated with Lafayette County in the study. We will publish the results on our website.
On May 20, after our board meeting, LASA held its first field day of the summer in one of Mike Berget’s fields. Mike shared his experience of planting green into a standing rye crop with attendees. Dennis Busch from UW-Platteville presented on his rain simulator. It was a great way to kick off our summer events.
Speaking of planting green, I have talked to quite a few of our members who are experimenting with this practice. Great job to all for trying this newer practice. I think there will be more members doing this in the future.
We’re busy with plans for a summer picnic happening at 5 p.m on July 18. at The General Store in Gratiot. This will follow our farmer-to-farmer workshop that same day. Doug will meet with farmers in the pilot project and go through each farm report with them.
We plan to have our annual summer field day in August. One of our members stepped up to offer his farm for that event so be on the lookout for an announcement with more details in the very near future. All members are encouraged to lend their thoughts on what they want to see for that larger field day.
We have also talked about hosting quick evening 30-minute field visits; these pop-ups would allow members to check out a field where a member has tried a new practice. Another farmer-led group in the state has tried this and found success with them. It all stems back to finding more value for a membership with LASA.
Did you know we have a snapchat group? Our board is always looking for ways to keep members connected, so we recently created a snapchat group ─Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance. You can ask a board member to get you added. We are just using this to share pictures of our fields, animals, anything conservation-related within our group. It is a more casual way of sharing. Please consider joining the snapchat group. I am even on it!
Lastly, I urge all members to check our website to see the most up-to-date information and news on what is happening with LASA. That is where we publish all our results from the pilot project and our field day events. I hope everyone has a safe and profitable summer, and we hope to see you at one of our events.
Sincerely, Jim Winn