Freshwater Collaborative Ag-Water Nexus Course Visits Northeast Wisconsin for a Fall Field Trip
On Friday September 9, 2022, Kevin Fermanich and other regional professors, led a group of students from the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Madison, and UW-Green Bay around northeast Wisconsin to visit areas where watershed groups are working with the agriculture industry to implement conservation measures to improve soil health and area water quality. The first stop was to the Soil Health Education & Demonstration (SHED) building in Outagamie County. This facility is the result of a joint collaboration among Oneida Nation, Outagamie County, and NEW Water. The SHED houses shared farming equipment available for farmers to demo and rent, test plots to demonstrate new farming practices, and a meeting area for local educational gatherings.
Kevin Fermanich gave a review of area water issues and set the stage for students on what to expect from the day. Representatives from the Outagamie County Land Conservation Department gave an overview of their work implementing conservation practices and walked the group through some of the demonstration plots. Erin Houghton, NEW Water's Watershed Programs Manager, gave a review of NEW Water’s adaptive management program and the work they are doing with farmers and area land owners to create productive resilient agricultural lands while improving local impaired waterways.
From the SHED, the group viewed a recently constructed two-stage ditch with adjoining buffer implemented by NEW Water’s program on the way to Neighborhood Dairy where the group met the farmers and toured their barnyard learning about the innovative ways the dairy is caring for their animals and water quality. The group then departed to view management challenges in karst bedrock areas, watershed monitoring technologies, large-scale manure biogas and processing facility and ag runoff treatment system research, before going to central Wisconsin to continue the three-day field trip. The pilot course is part of the UW System Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin that applies the power of the 13 University of Wisconsin institutions in addressing freshwater challenges.
Photo caption: Erin Houghton, NEW Water, providing students with an overview of the NEW Watershed Program