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Tainter Creek Watershed Council finalizes plans and discusses a grant

VERNON AND CRAWFORD COUNTIES - In a sparsely attended meeting, attributed to it being “a busy time of year,” the Tainter Creek Watershed Council discussed events for the remainder of 2019 and applying for a 2020 DATCP Producer-Led Watershed Grant.

The group plans two to three more events in 2019, with one of them coming up on Wednesday Aug. 7, at the farm of Jeremy and Jessi Nagel, S8129 [Vernon County] County J, Soldiers Grove (just west from the intersection of Vernon County J and M). ‘Fast & Flexible Fencing’ will feature fencing expert Randy Cutler from Stevens Point, as well as local grazing consultant Mike Muensch. 

Cutler and his wife Sally live on a 227-acre farm near Milladore, Wisconsin raising sheep, beef, poultry and numerous vegetables. Randy has worked with farmers throughout his professional life, consulting in various farm management aspects.  

 Much of Cutler’s work includes Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) projects. 

“The NRCS, local county land conservation offices, and some Resource Conservation and Development districts have been a major force in converting highly erodible land and critical soil types from row cropping to rotational grazing enterprises here in Wisconsin,” says Cutler.  “We have done countless fence installations for designs made by many NRCS and county Land Conservation District (LCD) employees.”

Cutler graduated from UW River Falls in agriculture. He established Cutler Fence over 10 years ago “to work directly with the farmers promoting rotational grazing.”

“I teach planning, placement, and practicality of making fence,” Cutler explained. “Workshop participants will learn about fence types, mental and physical barriers, resources, costs, and preparation. They will also get to see how to use various fencing materials.”

To register for the free event and lunch, contact Sarah McDowell at the Vernon County Land and Water Conservation Department, 608-637-5480,

Don’t farm naked

Of interest to watershed members and local area farmers, two noted experts from Madison will lead a cover crops workshop on Tuesday, August 20, at the farm of Lee & Cheryl Johnson, S8371 Bishop Road, Ferryville.

‘Don’t Farm Naked: A Practical Cover Crops Field Day,’ will feature U.W. Soil Scientists Dr. Francisco Arriaga and Dr. Carrie Laboski. Arriaga will discuss managing soil compaction and cover crop considerations. Laboski will talk about nitrogen management considerations for profitability and water quality.

In addition, Ashley Olson, the Vernon County UW-Extension Agricultural Educator, will give a presentation about fall forage options with cover crops, and Soybean Gall Midge, a new soybean pest. Vernon County Conservationist Ben Wojahn will lead a demonstration of different land management and water runoff/infiltration with a rainfall simulator, demonstrate use of a ‘roller crimper,’ and discuss use of cover crops – with or without cost-share.

Pre-registration is required for the complimentary lunch – contact Linda at the Vernon County Extension at 608-637-5276,

Soil health event

The group has tentative plans pending presenter confirmation to hold a soil health education event at the farm of Brian McCulloh/Windward Farms on Friday, Oct. 4. If confirmed, Gabe Brown will be the presenter. Brown is a partner, along with Ray Archuleta and Dr. Allen Williams in Understanding Ag LLC, and an instructor with the Soil Health Academy.

Brown is one of the pioneers of the current soil health movement, which focuses on regeneration of resources. Brown holistically integrates his grazing and no-till cropping systems, which include a wide variety of cash crops, multi-species cover crops–along with all natural grass-finished beef and lamb. He also raises pastured laying hens, broilers and swine. This diversity and integration has regenerated the natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides.

In other business

In other business, the group discussed:

• ideas for the 2020 DATCP Producer-Led Watershed Council grant application. The deadline to submit the application is Friday, August 23. There was agreement that the budget sub-committee would work on the application with Vernon County and Water Land Conservation and Matt Emslie of Valley Stewardship Network;

• Ben Wojahn reported that the Driftless Area Water Study (DAWS) was moving ahead with seeking funding, and would be able to begin water testing in the Spring of 2020 at the earliest. There was discussion of whether the watershed council should wait to test until then–or go ahead with another round of testing. It was agreed that the water testing sub-committee would meet and bring a recommendation to the next meeting of the group.