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Leopold Conservation Award finalists announced


November 12, 2010
By Manure Manager

November 12, 2010,
Madison, WI – Sand County Foundation and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
are pleased to announce the four finalists for the 2011 Leopold Conservation
Award.

November 12, 2010,
Madison, WI – Sand County Foundation and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation
are pleased to announce the four finalists for the 2011 Leopold Conservation
Award
.

“The health of Wisconsin’s
landscape is dependent on hard-working farm families who are dedicated to
ensuring that Wisconsin’s land, water and wildlife are in better shape than
when they found them,” said Dr. Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation
president. “The high quality and number of nominees in this inaugural year made
the selection process difficult but it proves that Wisconsin’s natural
resources are being cared for by innovative landowners who want to see them
flourish for future generations.”

The Leopold Conservation
Award
, named in honor of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is
comprised of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal. The award is now presented annually
in eight states to private landowners who practice responsible land stewardship
and management.

The 2010 finalists, listed
alphabetically, are:

The Bragger family,
Independence (Trempealeau County)

The Bragger Family Dairy
is located in the steep and narrow valleys of west-central Wisconsin’s
driftless area. While very productive, it is also poses challenges in terms of
controlling soil erosion and run-off. A 300-cow dairy herd, 50 head of grazed
beef and 64,000 pullets, and 4,000 brown trout make up the diversified
operation. All of the poultry and livestock manure is incorporated onto fields
as fertilizer for over 500 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and barley. Another
150 acres of woodlands are managed for wildlife, recreation and timber
production. The brown trout are raised annually in a spring-fed pond on the
farm and are later released into area streams. 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.

Jim and Valerie Hebbe,
Princeton (Green Lake County)

Jim Hebbe has been
implementing conservation practices for 24 years and has shared his ideas with
other farmers as the Green Lake County conservationist since 1984. He and his
wife, Valerie, raise 1,100 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa in
central Wisconsin. In addition to no-till planting all of the crops, he has
worked to develop numerous conservation systems that compliment each other and
lead to less erosion and more residue cover on the land. The farm includes land
with a significant slope draining into a Class 1 Trout Stream. A water and
sediment basin was constructed to help control and reduce field runoff into the
stream. Native prairie grasses were planted in a field that borders the creek.
Twenty-five acres of evergreen trees were planted on a farm with light and
sandy soil. In 1985 he helped develop conservation standards for the Farmland
Preservation Program participants to control soil erosion to sustainable
levels.

Bob and Helen Kees, Durand
(Pepin County)

The Kees’ Wheatfield Hill
Farm
has been a nationally certified organic farm (for both crops and
livestock) since 1997. All pest control (both insect and weed) is done through
biological, botanical, cultural or mechanic methods. These skillful growers of
high quality produce sell their crops regularly at the Eau Claire Downtown
Farmer’s Market
. The farm produces a variety of organic crops including
asparagus, watercress, rhubarb, blueberries, sweet corn, cantaloupe,
watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, squash and pumpkins in addition to
producing organic beef. Local manure and sawdust are used to fertilize their
farm fields where contour strip cropping of barley, oats and alfalfa is used to
avoid erosion. Years of conservation management has increased the organic
content of their sandy, highly erodable soils in west-central Wisconsin. All of
farm’s woodlands are enrolled in a managed forest program.

The Koepke family,
Oconomowoc, Waukesha County

Koepke Farms Inc. is a
partnership between brothers Alan, David, Jim, and Jim’s son John. The 320-cow
dairy farm is consists of 1,000 acres of cropland plus 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 a long history of soil conservation. They incorporate
grassed waterways, contour strip cropping, diversified crop rotation, nutrient
management, cover crops and barnyard runoff control into their farming
practices. Research conducted on the farm by the University of Wisconsin
Discovery Farms Program
from 2005 to 2008 resulted in the Koepkes making the
decision to build a manure storage structure. 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.

The Leopold Conservation
Award
recipient will be formally announced next April, in conjunction with
Earth Day 2011.


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