success stories and impact reports
Farm and Risk Management team
To succeed in today’s agricultural and economic climate, farmers need to evaluate the financial health of their farm businesses, to use strategic planning concepts in making financial management decisions, and to think strategically about their future.
In today’s changing farm environment, producers are required to take on more of a managerial role on their farms. For many producers, working with employees, whether they are family or non-family, is a challenging experience.
Asian Soybean Rust, a fungal disease, has traveled north from South America and was first observed in the continental United States in 2004. While the disease is unlikely to survive Wisconsin’s winters, its spores can travel rapidly on the wind, threatening Wisconsin’s valuable soybean crop.
In 2003, individual monitoring efforts came together in the UW-Extension Southeast Wisconsin Variant Western Corn Rootworm Trapping Network. The network is determining the geographical range of the variant rootworms and developing educational programs to share results and management recommendations. The network monitors more than 71 sites in eleven southern Wisconsin counties for rootworm damage in first-year corn and for beetle activity in soybeans.
Maintaining and enhancing soil quality is vital to the long-term profitability and productivity of Wisconsin agriculture and to the quality of the environment. Focused educational efforts can help farmers improve management practices in tillage, residue management, and using cover crops to maintain and improve soil quality.
Emerging Agricultural Markets Team
Consumer demand is increasing for fresh, high quality, locally grown vegetables. For farmers looking for ways to diversify, growing fresh markets vegetables and fruits is a new opportunity. However, growers need a convenient way to connect with grocery stores, restaurants and other buyers.
From the individual farmer making goat milk soap for a premium price, to a 500-member ethanol co-op, many Wisconsin producers have been venturing into “value-added agriculture” to increase farm income and diversify their risk. What has been missing is a coordinated statewide effort to support these entrepreneurs.
Nutrient Management Team
Farmers in Wisconsin need to develop farm nutrient management plans because they are required by government agricultural programs, zoning rules, livestock siting ordinances, and permitting process for animal feeding operations. In addition, improving nutrient management practices benefits farmers by increasing profitability and reducing the detrimental effects of nitrogen and phosphorus on water quality.
The University of Wisconsin-Extension Dairy Modernization Team helped 1,804 dairy producers consider modernization options and management practices last year. These new facilities are increasing profitability and easing the back-breaking labor of milking cows.
Dairy producers who have updated their barns and milking facilities and added more cows to their herds need reliable employees who have been trained in modern dairy practices. Many dairy workers working on Wisconsin farms are Latinos from Mexico and Central America and may not speak much English.
Consumers demand milk produced under the most hygienic standards. They expect their milk to come from healthy cows. Production of high quality milk is essential to continued profitability of the Wisconsin dairy business community.
In Racine, Rock and Waukesha counties, horticulture educators recognized the need for services to underserved populations. Programs were developed to address the needs of adults with disabilities, inmates, and a HUD designated low-to-moderate income revitalization neighborhood.
In 2005, the Horticulture Diagnostic Team of Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Waukesha counties worked with the UW-Milwaukee Center for Urban Initiative and Research to evaluate the diagnostics program. Information collected measured the quality of the service, client satisfaction and client compliance with recommendations.
Extension-trained Master Gardeners teach members of the public about horticulture in a variety of ways -- by answering questions and providing research-based information at local gardening events, through special workshops, on UW-Extension-supported garden hotlines, or through other means.
19,000 winter-weary Wisconsinites got a jump start on spring at the annual Garden Expo in Madison. The event – open for three days in February and sponsored by UW-Extension Horticulture Team, Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) and the Friends of WHA-TV – raised funds of Wisconsin Public Television and the program “The Wisconsin Gardener.”
Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) emphasizes good management practices, such as safe use of antibiotics, to assure consumers that pork products are safe and wholesome. In late September 2005, Central Livestock Association notified their Wisconsin pork producers that, as of Oct. 1, it would no longer accept any animals from operations that lacked PQA certification. This unexpected announcement meant that many producers would be unable to sell their animals.
Land Use Team
As Wisconsin’s population grows, suburbs and rural subdivisions are being developed in what had been an exclusively agricultural environment. At the same time, some livestock producers are considering expanding their operations. In an effort to head off conflicts, the Wisconsin legislature passed the Livestock Facility Siting Law.
The UW-Extension Forage Resources Web site offers educators, agriculture professionals and producers a one-stop portal for finding information and research about forages at the University of Wisconsin.
University of Wisconsin-Extension has a broad array of educational materials available for cranberry growers on its Web site. However, most cranberry growers live and work in remote areas of the state where people do not have fast and reliable Internet access.
Each year about 40 Wisconsinites die from farm related injuries. Additionally, there are approximately 16,000 nonfatal farm related injuries. Farm machinery is often involved as farmers, their families or employees are inadvertently pulled into or entrapped by farm machinery, crushed by tractor rollovers, submerged in flowing grain or suffer other injuries. One of the problems many EMS personnel encounter with farm equipment accidents is its heavy construction. The best option is often equipment disassembly. In the past six years, UW-Extension Dane County agents have worked with Dane County Farm Bureau (DCFB) to train over 400 county emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and firefighters in farm safety.
The Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that attacks and kills ash trees, was found in July 2008 in southeastern Wisconsin, in a private woodlot in Ozaukee County. Wisconsin has more than 700 million ash trees, thus this pest poses a serious threat to homeowners and the state’s $3 billion “green” industry.