Sand County Foundation and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation hosted a tour of Koepke Farms, Inc, located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, June 28. The Koepkes are the recipients of the 2011 Leopold Conservation Award in Wisconsin.
“The Koepkes have made conservation a family tradition,” said Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation President. “The program and tour provided the opportunity to see, firsthand, the benefits of the Koepkes’soil and water management techniques. They are a prime example of the innovative, dedicated and determined farm families that can be found across Wisconsin.”
Watch a video that covers some of the Koepkes’ conservation efforts:
Participants during the program and tour included landowners and representatives from Sand County Foundation, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and Wisconsin’s Secretary of Agriculture, Ben Brancel.
Koepke Farms, Inc. is a partnership between brothers Alan, David, Jim and Jim’s son John. Together, they milk 320 cows and operate 1,000 acres of cropland plus another 150 acres of woods and wetlands.
As one of the first farms in their area to adopt a completely no-till system, the family has incorporated grassed waterways, contour strip cropping, diversified crop rotation, nutrient management, cover crops and barnyard runoff control into their farming practices.
They have altered the dairy herd’s feed rations so that the manure does not contain excessive levels of phosphorus, without impacting milk production. As proof, a Holstein named “Granny” from the farm holds the world record for lifetime milk production.
“Conservation values are not something that only people with deep pockets can afford,” John Koepke said. “They’re something anyone can do.”
The farm was a participant in the University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms program, and a number of stewardship practices have been implemented to enhance water quality, soil conservation and profitability.
The Leopold Conservation Award in Wisconsin is made possible through the support of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, American Transmission Company, Rural Mutual Insurance Company, University of Wisconsin-Extension and Farm Credit.
For more information, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org