Agriculture Archives for 2018-08

Local Apples going to market this weekend

By Paul Schmitt    

The area apple orchards are getting ready for another successful harvest this fall.  Despite a six percent decline in production nationally compared to 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, local orchard owners are optimistic about this year's harvest.  Steve Wood of Wood Orchard in Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay says he will have apples going to market this weekend already.


Wood says the area orchards missed out on the more severe weather lately and that the apple crop should remain good for the season.

Heavy rainfall much needed for area farm crops

With southern Door County receiving upwards of six inches of rain in the past few days, area farmers are benefiting from a late but heavy August rainfall.  Jim Wautier of Church-Site Farm in Brussels says the rain came at an opportune time.


Wautier says the crops had been showing signs of dryness and stress before the rain and is now ready for harvest in the next week or two.  he says the rains probably saved his crops and help them finish out rather than dying off.   The average rainfall for Door County in August is 3.3 inches, according to

Crops needing rain for strong harvest finish

By Paul Schmitt    

The expected rains this weekend will make an impressive corn crop even better, according to one local farmer. Rich Olson of Olson Family Farm in southern Door County and a member of the Ag Advisory Board says harvesting should begin soon.


Olson says his crops have made an impressive comeback considering the later than normal planting season earlier this spring. He says green beans that were planted are now blossoming and can use another dose of rain.

Kewaunee and Door Counties Annual Corn Dry Down

By Aerica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County UW-Extension Agriculture Agent      

Kewaunee and Door County UW-Extension will be holding the annual Corn Dry Down on Wednesday, August 29 at Door County Co-Op on Hwy 42/57 in Sturgeon Bay, and Tuesday, September 4 Rio Creek Feed Mill at the Luxemburg site.

Samples will be collected from 9:00am-12:00pm on both days. Samples will be delivered to Dairyland Labs, and results will be available within 24 hours.

For testing, please bring 4-5 stalks of corn with you, bundled and tagged. Please include the variety, relative maturity, and planting date of each sample. Samples delivered the day before will not be tested.

Thanks to our generous sponsors, each farm can submit two samples at no charge. Any additional samples will be charged $12 per sample. It has been a very dry summer, so nitrate analysis will also be available for a charge of $9. Payment for additional samples and nitrate testing is due upon sample delivery.

For more information regarding the corn dry down testing, contact the Kewaunee County UW-Extension Office at 920-388-7138 or the Door County UW-Extension Office at 920?746?2263. More information can be found at

Why be a farmer? Series on Careers

By Paul Schmitt    

The changes in farming over the past few decades have one local farmer expressing satisfaction and optimism for future farmers in the agricultural field of work. Rich Olson of Olson Family Farm says it is a challenging job, but he takes pride in the difference farmers make in the world.


Olson says he doesn't know if there is a harder job because as a farmer you rely on the weather and other considerations that are out of your control. He says that with all the new technological advances in agriculture in recent years, the only thing that is the same in farming since he was a child is that the seed comes out of the ground.

Egg Harbor farmer says township manure rules could break local industry

By Tim Kowols       

Haberli Farms owner Joe Haberli says he does not know what farmers would do if more townships follow the lead of Liberty Grove officials in banning manure produced outside of the township. The farm sits in the town of Jacksonport, but Haberli owns land in two other municipalities to spread the manure produced by his over 300-cow dairy operation. Recently designated as a confined animal feeding operation, Haberli Farms has a nutrient management plan registered with the state. Haberli believes farmers being squeezed on where they can spread manure could push many out of the business.

Three communities in the state including Liberty Grove have enacted ordinances banning the spreading of out-of-town manure within the last year in response to residents wanting to protect their water. Clean Water Action Council Executive Director Dean Hoegger spoke in favor of communities enacting similar ordinances last week in a story you can find by clicking here.

Clean Water advocate hopes momentum builds for stricter manure transport laws

By Tim Kowols       

A decision by the Liberty Grove Town Board to effectively ban out-of-town unmanipulated manure earlier month is giving clean water advocates hope similar rules spread elsewhere. The board voted 4-1 to prohibit spreading manure if it did not originate within the town's limits. Clean Water Action Council Executive Director Dean Hoegger believes this is one of only a few ways local townships can control what is being spread in their area.

Liberty Grove joined Nashotah and Delafield as the only municipalities in the state with such ordinances. Hoegger says as of right now, organizations like the Dairy Business Association have not challenged municipalities on the rule changes. We will have an opposing viewpoint featured next week.

Haen having a ball as Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair

By Tim Kowols       

Over 30 county fairs and the Wisconsin State Fair later, Isabella Haen is not slowing down as the summer draws to a close. The former Kewaunee County Fairest of the Fair has been crisscrossing the state since June as the Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair as she promoted agriculture at multiple stops each weekend. Citing bringing the state fair to kids at a Milwaukee-area children's hospital and hopping on rides with the state's governor and Alice in Dairyland as among her many highlights, Haen cannot wait to bring home some new ideas to Kewaunee County.

Haen says she has about 8-10 fairs remaining over the next couple weeks before she trades her crown for her job back at Kinnard Farms in Casco.


Picture Courtesy of Wisconsin Fairest of the Fair Facebook page

Field days giving farmers useful tools to improve

By Tim Kowols       

Talking about soil health may not be the most exciting way to spend an afternoon for many, but it is providing useful information for farmers to improve their operations. In collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Peninsula Pride Farms, the Door-Kewaunee Watershed Demonstration Farm Network has hosted a number of field days for area farmers to learn about new techniques to handle soil erosion and control phosphorus run-off. Attendance has been high at the field days, which is something Peninsula Pride Farms President Don Niles is happy to see.

Farmers will be able to get an update on the recently installed tile line bark bed filter at Kinnard Farms in Casco this Thursday from 1-3 p.m.

Agriculture fighting employment crunch

By Tim Kowols       

Farmers are not exempt from the hiring crunch many industries are facing this year. Wisconsin's unemployment rate has been below three percent since the spring, making businesses across the board try to find employees from a shrinking pool. Farmers like Joe Haberli from Haberli Farms in Egg Harbor have struggled to find employees for his operation, offering pay above the minimum wage and free housing. He says he fights the same battles other employers do.

Haberli says he is currently working with the federal government to legally bring another guest worker to his operation, a process he says could take up to 10 weeks.

Corn crop thriving in southern Door County

By Paul Schmitt    

Ideal weather conditions have area farmers enjoying a great growing season to this point, according to Jim Wautier of Church-Site Farms in Brussels.  Recent hot temperatures and occasional rains have led to a corn crop that has tasseled out in most areas.  Wautier says his corn fields are really doing well.


Wautier marvels that the corn silage is on target to mature and be harvested by early September considering the later-than-normal spring planting.

Kewaunee County looks to add NR-151 rules to its ordinances

By Tim Kowols       

New manure handling rules in northeast Wisconsin have been in effect for over a month, but Kewaunee County hopes to be able to streamline the process when the Land and Water Conservation Committee meets on Tuesday. The new NR-151 rules enacted on July 1 restrict where, when, and how much manure can be spread on land sitting on thin soils. The rules were designed to help protect the area's water which can be easily compromised. Land and Water Conservation Committee chairperson Chuck Wagner says they are not looking to make their ordinance stricter than state law, but rather allow the county to react quicker to potential violations.

The committee will discuss the changes to the county's agricultural performance standards, known as Chapter 39, when it meets at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Luxemburg. The meeting will also mark the first time the committee has met since the Land and Water Conservation Department absorbed the Zoning Department last month.

Michigan energy producer gives manure a try at Pagel's Ponderosa

By Tim Kowols       

Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy, Rev LNG, LLC, and DTE Energy are joining forces to help process cow manure into natural gas fuel. The project broke ground at the Kewaunee dairy farm Wednesday afternoon to build a new facility that will pump cow manure into an underground anaerobic digester that will produce methane. That methane will then be refined to be used as alternative vehicle fuel. DTE Biomass Energy vice president Kevin Dobson says they have been approaching dairy farms about the technology in recent years after perfecting the process at landfills.

Pagel's Ponderosa was the first of six Wisconsin dairies to break ground on manure-to-gas facilities this year with hopes of being fully operational in early 2019. DTE Energy projects the project could reduce yearly greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 9,200 vehicles off the road and saving 4.8 million gallons of gasoline.

Kewaunee County dairy exhibitors earn top prize at Wisconsin State Fair

By Tim Kowols       

Dairy exhibitors from Kewaunee County will be returning home with plenty of awards after a successful weekend at the Wisconsin State Fair.  The  16-member dairy exhibition team, which included Michael Moede, Carmen Haack, Justin Gaedtke, Mikayla Knorn, Taylor Paye, and Megan Moede,  earned first place for their  educational display and fifth place in herdsmanship. Their herd of 32 cows earned 15 major awards, including Michael's Supreme Champion Cow and Supreme Champion Bred and Owned Cow, which is awarded to the best of the best. Michael says it is a testament to the hard work everyone puts into their projects in Kewaunee County.

Haack took first in the Dairy Knowledge Masters Contest, also adding a scholarship and a production award for her Red and White Holstein. Kewaunee County Goat exhibitors performed well in their own category, taking second in education display and third in herdsmanship. The Wisconsin State Fair runs through Sunday.


Pictures courtesy of Aerica Bjurstrom

Youth show pride in their animals during Door County Fair

By Tim Kowols       

Hundreds of animals got a chance to strut their stuff and make their owners proud during the Door County Fair this weekend. The majority of the exhibitors got a chance to enter the show ring in front of judges Friday and Saturday. Ashley Larson and her sister April showed pigs including the grand champion. They both learned a lot about showing their animals this summer.

Saturday night was a cheerful goodbye for many of the youth showing as the Quality Market Animal Sale took place, where the animals they have been working with were sold. While much of the money earned at the sale usually goes into college savings accounts, Lindsay Schuh told before the sale that the check she earns from her organic red Angus steer will go to DOORCANcer.

Sunday marks the final day of the Door County Fair.


Master Gardners to show training films as part of Tuesday education series

By Tim Kowols       

The Door County Master Gardeners are taking their Tuesdays at the Garden Door inside on August 14 to discuss composting and integrated pest management. The topics are part of the Master Gardener training video series, which is a crucial part of the education required to learn what it takes to be a Master Gardener. While the class is still necessary, Carrie Sherrill from the Door County Master Gardeners says the online videos give great information before they add local topics.

The next meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the UW Peninsular Agricultural Research Station in Sturgeon Bay.

Study links agricultural contamination to antibiotic resistant genes in Kewaunee County

By Tim Kowols       

Sediment in Kewaunee County rivers could harbor antibiotic-resistant genes caused by agricultural contamination according to a Marquette University study. Researchers collected data from 20 different watershed sites located by Kewaunee County confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) multiple times from July 2016 to May 2017. It found the number of antibiotic-resistant genes would jump during periods of field fertilization in the county when antibiotics used to treat sick animals could be spread by manure. Field runoff would then bring excess waste into area water streams and even sit in the sediment. Lynn Utesch from Kewaunee CARES says the study shows health care professionals where they need to start looking when patients are admitted with diseases resistant to antibiotics.

The report, which is posted below, also confirms previous studies showing the impact non-point agricultural pollution has on the surface waters in Kewaunee County. The three watersheds tested during the yearlong study all appear on the state's impaired waters list.


Liberty Grove bans most out-of-town manure

By Tim Kowols       

The town of Liberty Grove approved a new ordinance Wednesday effectively banning manure produced outside of its boundaries. The board voted 4-1 to prohibit the practice of spreading the out-of-town, unmanipulated manure to help battle against possible groundwater contamination. Three people spoke in favor of the ordinance and no one dissented. Town board member Lou Covotsos says the lone "no" vote felt like the ordinance did not go far enough, something he says could have been interpreted as overreaching.

Covotsos says he is not sure if Liberty Grove's actions will cause a domino effect in the county, but believes similar ordinances could help everybody's water supply in the long run.

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