Agriculture Archives for 2017-10

Area late season farm crops benefiting from a warmer fall

By Paul Schmitt

A warmer and dryer autumn has area farmers making up for lost time.  Above average rainfall this summer had many farmers anxious and worried about the fall harvest season, but Rich Olson from Olson Family Farm in southern Door County says the crops, especially the corn, have rebounded well.



As for the corn fields that are still standing, Olson notes that not all corn is harvested for silage.  He says some corn is left to go to more maturity where farmers will harvest the grain for what is called shelled corn.  That corn is harvested about a month after the silage corn.

Kewaunee County sends manure spreading ordinance back to committee

By Paul Schmitt

An agricultural ordinance that would regulate the way farmers spread liquid manure on their fields was delayed by the Kewaunee County Board Tuesday.  The Waste irrigation Ordinance will now go back to the Land and Water Conservation Committee.  The ordinance, which was drafted back in May has provisions that require farmers to use only low-pressure methods of manure spraying underneath the canopy formed by the crops.  Don Niles of Peninsula Pride Farms says he appreciates the Kewaunee County Board working with farmers to run a more sustainable operation that reduces their environmental footprint but would like more time to make sure the ordinance gets done right.



Niles says farmers are excited about the access to new technologies because they are focused on proving that they can have both clean, safe water and thriving agriculture.  He says farmers have been too busy the last five months to research the topic and bring back meaningful feedback to the county.  The Kewaunee County Board was to vote on the Waste Irrigation Ordinance Tuesday after it had been read at last month's meeting.

Dairy farmers worried about potential changes in immigration

By Tim Kowols

Dairy farmers across the country are still expressing their concern about what could happen to their immigrant workforce if reforms are not enacted. According to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, more than half of dairy farm workers nationally are immigrants at a time when rural populations are dropping. With changes to federal immigration policies looming, Haberli Farms owner and Ag Advisory Board member Joe Haberli hopes considerations are made so he and other farmers can keep their trained employees from spending thousands of dollars in lawyer fees trying to become naturalized or getting deported.



Senator Ron Johnson introduced a state-run guest worker program in May allowing states to manage visas and allocate them to industries like agriculture in need of help; an approach Haberli calls a Band-Aid for a bigger problem.

Kewaunee County manure haulers can choose voluntary tracking in 2018

By Tim Kowols

Kewaunee County haulers will be given a year to voluntarily track their manure spreading before a stricter ordinance is enacted. The proposed ordinance would have required manure haulers to install equipment onto their trucks to digitally track where, when, and how much manure was being spread in the county. The high initial costs of installing the equipment, which could run some operators thousands of dollars, caused many farmers and contractors to balk at the idea. Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation committee member Lee Luft says its "Plan B," allowing operators to keep track of their manure spreading via a spreadsheet, was a reasonable compromise for 2018.



Luft says if voluntary measures are unsuccessful, the proposed ordinance could be enacted for 2019.

Kinnard Farms harvesting crops, conversation during fall season

By Tim Kowols

Kinnard Farms in Casco is taking people along for the ride of their hectic fall harvest via social media. The warmer and drier weather at the end of September forced the crews to cram their usual 21 days of harvesting corn into 14 days, which is no small task for a farm producing nearly 150,000 tons of silage from 6,700 acres of corn. Kinnard Farms is using technology like aerial drones and Facebook to give followers a look at goes into their harvest season. Owner Lee Kinnard says in between the 12 to 15 hour days he and his crews have putting in to finish the harvest, he enjoys interacting with people online by answering their questions.



Kinnard says they are using seven choppers, 33 semi-trucks, and eight packing machines to hopefully finish the harvest by Wednesday while also planting cover crops for the winter.

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Honeycrisp apples still leading the way for area orchards

By Paul Schmitt

The Door and Kewaunee County Apple Orchards are battling to keep up with the demand of the popular apples this harvest season.  Steve Wood from Wood Orchards in Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor says when it comes down to the most popular apple in the area, the Honeycrisp still tops the other apples.



Honeycrisp apples are known for their sweetness, firmness, and tartness as well as a long shelf life when stored in cool and dry conditions, according to Wood.  First released in 1991, Honeycrisp apples were first developed by the University of Minnesota back in 1974.

Egg Harbor farmer believes new manure handling rules could drive out smaller operators

By Tim Kowols

Last week's 3-2 vote by the Door County Land Conservation Committee to voice support for changes to the state's manure handling rules known as NR 151 has some farmers worried about the industry's future in the area. Some of the changes focus on areas like Door and Kewaunee County where its karst geology affects the soil depth and limits how much manure can be spread there. Haberli Farms co-owner and Ag Advisory Board Member Joe Haberli believes it is a band-aid approach to the problem.



While his farm was recently designated as a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO), Haberli says it is the small family farms that will be the most affected by the changes because of a lack of money and a lack of time for the additional paperwork.



Proponents to the changes say this is a good start to addressing groundwater issues in the area and there are programs available to help take on the extra expenses. The Natural Resources Board will meet to discuss the possible rule changes before forwarding them to the governor for his approval.

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