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Growers Plan to Reduce Phosphorus Runoff

Field Monitoring Station
Field Monitoring Station
Field Monitoring Station on the Kohm & Spychalla LLC Farm in Antigo, WI

Unique partnership helps Antigo potato farmers manage runoff and water use

By Chuck Bolte, precision ag and nutrient management supervisor, AgSource Laboratories

Bringing together different groups is nothing new, and now the growers of the Antigo Flats are teaming with several organizations to meet the goals of reducing phosphorus runoff and gaining a better understanding of water usage.

Collaborators include the University of Wisconsin (UW) Discovery Farms, the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA), AgSource Laboratories and The Nature Conservancy.

The project envisioned by a few growers and consultants four years ago is now off and running. Since that initial meeting, groundwork has been laid to learn what is happening in the field and with the surface and groundwater of the Antigo Flats.

Goals have been developed to:

  • Reduce average PI (Phosphorus Index) from 4 to 2 for the Antigo Flats
  • Establish Edge of Field Monitoring
  • Educate growers about surface and groundwater resources of the Antigo Flats
  • Educate growers on the uses of cover crops
  • Improve soil health properties and measurements

Starting in 2015, with an evaluation of most of the fields on the Antigo Flats, the ones with the most runoff were identified and then brought to the attention of respective growers.

Ideas for reducing runoff were presented to growers and most have been trying to implement new practices on those fields. In many cases, the mode of action has been to plant cover crops on those fields.

Cover crop usage on the Antigo Flats is estimated to have increased tenfold over the last four years.

In spring 2017, streamflow monitors were installed in the Spring Brook that flows through the Antigo Flats, and they have been collecting data since then.

Starting in July 2018 and ongoing, grab water samples are being taken on the first of the month from Spring Brook to monitor water quality throughout the year.

Samples are being tested for phosphorus and nitrogen, and plans are to start taking samples in 2019 from the Eau Claire River as well.

Click here to read the full Badger Common’Tater article.

Badger CommonTater

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