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UWMadison chancellor talks collaboration at UWPlatteville
UWMadison Chancellor Rebecca Blank (left) visited the UWPlatteville Pioneer Farm Thursday. Blank is pictured with UWPlatteville Chancellor Dennis Shields. - photo by Photo by Andy McNeill

UW–Platteville officials hosted UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca M. Blank at the UW–Platteville Pioneer Farm Thursday.

Blank was joined by UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields, UWP agricultural officials, UW–Extension officials, local producers, and state Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center), all on a theme of collaboration.

“I am really impressed listening to the ways in which the producers and the researchers are interacting with each other on these projects,” said Blank. “And, what I really like, particularly here on Pioneer Farm, is that you have the educational component in this as well. It’s research, it’s education and it’s outreach, all happening together in all sorts of integrated ways and that’s exciting when you can make that happen.”

Pioneer Farm is currently home to a variety of research projects, involving various partners.

“They really are not just thinking about today, but what will happen 10 years from now,” said Shields of local producers. “And they are drawing on their experience from 15 to 20 years ago. That’s a really insightful perspective to take account of as we try to deliver our educational programming.”

Collaboration is not a new concept at UW–Platteville. “It’s one of the beauties of the university system,” added Shields. “That’s going on now fairly significantly, and that’s not a new thing. It’s always good to be reminded to be a part of it and to encourage it.”

“I think the opportunities for collaboration, particularly on the education side, are really going to increase in the next several years and it’s going to be on our shoulders to make sure we really take advantage of that,” said Blank.

Dr. Charles Steiner, director of Pioneer Farm, provided an overview of the farm’s operations. Pioneer Farm is a 430-acre property with 330 tillable acres located five miles from Platteville. The farm is home to a red and black Angus beef herd, Holstein milking herd and crossbred swine unit. The crop rotation consists of corn, oats, and alfalfa, with all crops grown harvested for feed.

The farm’s primary focus is to provide on-farm experiences to students, evaluate management practices, conduct systems and applied research, and communicate education and research to students, agencies, producers and the public.

Dr. Dennis Busch, research director at the farm, spoke about current research and collaborations with UW–Madison, UW–Extension and industry. Research conducted at the farm, according to Busch, is producer driven and includes long-term research, water quality monitoring, field scale focus, interdisciplinary research, as well as education and training.

“A large focus has been on surface water quality,” he said. “It’s a lot of work and we do it year round.”

The water quality monitoring includes looking at soil loss and phosphorus loss, among other details. “It’s long-term, extensive type research,” said Busch.

“We need to make sure our research is relevant and it adds value,” said Richard Gorder, a Mineral Point farmer, member of the Discovery Farms/Pioneer Farm Steering Committee, and vice president and District 3 director with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “The research is stuff that is going to be implemented on the farm.”

John Shutske, UW–Madison associate dean for Extension and Outreach, presented information about UW Discovery Farms and how UW–Madison collaborates on research with UW–Extension.

Discovery Farms are real working farms throughout Wisconsin’s diverse agricultural landscape that are facing different environmental challenges. The Discovery Farms program is an effort by UW–Extension and UW–Madison that takes a real-world approach to finding the most economical solutions.

The Discovery Farms program develops on-farm and related research to determine the economic and environmental effects of agricultural practices on a diverse group of Wisconsin farms; and educates and improves communications among the agricultural community, consumers, researchers and policy-makers to better identify and implement effective environmental management practices that are compatible with profitable agriculture.

For the last several years, the Discovery Farms program and UW–Platteville Pioneer Farm have shared a steering committee representing different farm and environmental organizations. The Discovery Farms/Pioneer Farm Steering Committee solicits input on nonpoint pollution information needs, identifies evaluation/demonstration project possibilities, selects projects for funding, and solicits Discovery Farms cooperators.

Discovery Farms and Pioneer Farm have collaborated on projects in the past. Traditionally, through that collaboration, the research, improved techniques and methodologies were refined at Pioneer Farm and Discovery Farms would work to disseminate those findings to its members.