Fall Cover Crop Showcase

Cover Crop Showcase - Sept. 28
Join us Wednesday, Sept. 27 for our Fall Cover Crop Showcase.

The event will showcase cover crops, Phosphorus reduction with weir and a rainfall simulator.
Location: Across the road from W10974 County Road CC, Beaver Dam
Host: Macheel Farms
No RSVP needed
Refreshments and snacks to follow at Zig’s Lakeside Pub And Grill (W11146 Co Rd G, Beaver Dam)
Field location map: 

On-farm demonstrations show tire pressure is a key factor in preventing soil compaction


Nearly 100 farmers and ag professionals gathered at Roche Farms on August 8 for an equipment, compaction and soil health event organized by Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water. Several university educators from Minnesota and Wisconsin taught farmers the effects compaction has on soil health.

Jodi DeJong-Hughes, University of Minnesota-Extension regional educator and Francisco Arriaga, UW-Madison Associate Soil Science professor, began the meeting identifying myths about soil compaction and factors affecting compaction. Farmers learned how management practices, most importantly checking the PSI of their tires and considering how many axles are distributing the equipment weight, can impact soil health. Arriaga focused on soil aggregation, pore size distribution, and its importance in soil health. When there isn’t correct pore size distribution yields can decrease by up to 60%.

Jake Kraayenbrink, owner of Agribrink, shared how he went from being a pig farmer in Canada to the founder and developer of an inflations/deflation tire system sold globally. He discussed how factoring tractor speed and equipment weight; they could set the correct tire pressure to lower the impact of compaction. He also shared that because equipment has gotten gradually 900 pounds heavier each year since 1960, the increased weight has led to decreases in soil health. He emphasized that setting the correct tire pressure will help save the soil.

Farmers had the opportunity to walk the fields for insightful demonstrations to see the effects of compaction under the soil profile. Kraayenbrink and DeJong-Hughes led discussions in a lasagna pit. The difference from a traditional soil pit and a lasagna pit is that it’s four feet deep of layered sand and topsoil. Once the pit is layered, David Roche backed over one side of the pit with a tanker with a tire pressure of 33 PSI and the other side with 10 PSI. The impressions on the soil pit were 7.5 inches deep and 4.5 inches deep, respectively. Once the pit was dug open, everyone could see how far the pressure went down. This provided an easy to understand visual of how compaction is affecting farm fields.

Another field demonstration led by Arriaga was a buried pressure bulb test to demonstrate the difference between a tire and track combine. He set up two sites using 12-inch-deep trenches with hoses filled with liquid. This set a level for farmers to watch to see if the water went up when the equipment drove over the trench. Using this demonstration, he can measure the pressure the equipment puts on the ground, increasing the risk for soil compaction.

Brain Luck, UW-Madison associate professor and extension specialist, presented a demonstration using pressure mats. The pressure mats show that a contact map patch grew in size when tire pressure decreased. This relates to soil compaction because there is less pressure on the soil when there is a larger footprint. He expressed its importance to find the optimal tire pressure where farmers can successfully work in the fields while minimizing soil compaction impact.

View the videos below to see the demonstrations and to learn more about the impacts of soil compaction.

Soil health event covering compaction concerns

Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water will explore compaction concerns and the effect equipment has on soil health. The group will host an educational event in Columbus with several speakers and demonstrations. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 8. It is open to the public, and a meal will be provided. Please RSVP by Aug. 1:   https://bit.ly/DCFAug8.

Join us in an exploration of soil health topics with the following experts: 

Jodi 2Jodi DeJong-Hughes is a regional educator with the University of Minnesota Extension. Her specialization includes tillage systems, soil compaction and improving soil health. DeJong-Hughes’ work focuses on reducing soil erosion and building soil health to improve the grower’s bottom line and reduce the movement of soil and nutrients to our natural waterways. She enjoys working alongside growers, ag industry and government agencies to bring high-quality educational programs and research to the people of Minnesota and beyond. She will discuss what compaction is and why farmers are concerned about it.

Francisco ArriagaFrancisco Arriaga is a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor and soil extension specialist. Arriaga directs the Sustainable Soil Management Laboratory and provides extension outreach. He does research in applied soil physics and water management and supports the development of management systems that promote crop productivity and soil and water conservation. He will be presenting on compaction sources – tillage, equipment and his current research.

Jake KJake Kraayenbrink is the president and owner of Agribrink. He has worked with farmers to understand the effects compaction has on soil health since the mid-1980s. His passion for soil health and investigation of tire inflation/deflation technology led to the start of AgriBrink. With encouragement from an engineer friend, he built the AgriBrink CTIS (central inflation/deflation system). The company has locations in Ontario, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and Ames, Iowa.

AgriBrink CTIS allows farmers to widen their application window, reduce compaction, protect soil structure, lower fuel consumption, extend tire life and reduce yield loss. Kraayenbrink will share how tire pressure and other strategies can reduce equipment compaction.

Brian LuckBrian Luck is an associate professor and extension specialist for UW-Madison. Luck directs the Wisconsin Machinery Extension Lab, which provides unbiased information about machinery and precision agriculture technologies. His research focuses on machine automation, data acquisition and image processing. He will perform a field demonstration with pressure mats and various compaction tools.



Who: Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water  

What: Equipment, Compaction and Soil Health

When: 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Aug. 8

Where: Roche Farms (N3339 Roche Rd, Columbus, WI)

Meeting agenda

  • “What is Compaction and Why are we Concerned About it?” Jodi DeJong-Hughes
  • “Compaction Sources – Tillage, Equipment and Current Research” Francisco Arriaga
  • “Using Tire Pressure and other Strategies to Reduce Equipment Compaction” Jake Kraayenbrink
  • “Pressure Mats and Various Compaction Tools” Brian Luck
  • Field demonstrations
    • Lasagna pit: Jake Kraayenbrink and Jodi DeJong-Hughes
    • Buried pressure bulb: Francisco Arriaga

Equipment Compaction and Soil Health Event

Thursday, August 8 - 9:30 a.m. Location: Roche Grain N3339 Roche Rd, Columbus, WI 53925

Jodi DeJong-Hughes: What is compaction, and why are we concerned about it
Francisco Arriaga: Compaction sources – tillage, equipment and current research
Jake Kraayenbrink: Using tire pressure and other strategies to reduce equipment compaction
Brian Luck: Pressure mats and various compaction tools
Field demonstrations: Lasagna pit and Buried pressure bulb demo
Speaker bios click here

Download flyer here

Download agenda here


Order a Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water shirt!
Click the image below. 

Pre-planting workshop



On April 4, over 60 folks gathered at Macheel Farms in Randolph, WI, for the Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil, Healthy Water spring planter tune-up meeting. 

The group heard from Brendon Blank as he gave an overview of the cover crop trails the group is doing and shared the benefits the group is learning. He expressed the importance of cover crops when doing no-till. They go hand in hand; to have success with no-tilling you need to pair it with cover crops. 

Jeremy Hughes, product manager from Horsch reminded the farmers that getting back to the basics in planter preparation makes for a successful spring. He talked through the all the items a farmer should check including the tractor and planter details. 

Macheel Farms had the new Hosch Avatar planter in their shop to showcase. After Hughes’s presentation the team from Horsch and Vanderloop Equipment talked through specifics of the planter and offered demonstrations.  Learn more in the videos below. 

 Again, thank you to the event sponsors, Higher Grounds Coffee Shop for bringing coffee and Vanderloop Equipment and Horicon State Bank for sponsoring the meal. 


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Spring planter tune-up discussion

Join Dodge County Farmers-Healthy Soil, Healthy Water for our spring planter tune-up discussion at Macheel Farms on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
Location: Macheel Farms – N9460 County Rd FW, Randolph WI
11 a.m. – Registration
11:30 a.m. – Brendon Blank – fertilizer value of cover crops
Noon – Free lunch provided by DCF (made by Chef Chanse)
1 p.m. – Jeremy Hughes, Horsh product manager will talk through planter set-up for spring and introduce the       new Avatar planter (sponsored by Vanderloop Equipment)
2:30 p.m. – wrap-up
Please RSVP by March 30 https://forms.gle/a4TL7MVoeyctkeDw8 

Expert shares how to boost profit, reduce inputs through cover crops

Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil Healthy Water (DCF), a farmer-led conservation group, hosted its annual Soil Health Expo on Feb. 8. Nearly 175 farmers and community members gathered to network, hear from soil health experts and learn about the group’s continued effort to make a positive impact in their watershed.

The event kicked off with an opportunity for farmers and community members to network and learn from group sponsors. DCF president Tony Pierick shared the group’s accomplishments from 2022 and introduced keynote speaker Dave Brandt.

Brandt is an Ohio farmer and nationally recognized cover crop expert. He spoke to the farmers about conservation tillage, no-till and cover crops. He also tried to teach them how to reduce their crop inputs to improve their bottom line. His farm has not used fungicide or insecticide for 13 years because blooming plants bring beneficial insects. The farm has also found benefits with cover crops providing a dry thatch that releases nutrients every time it rains. With this practice, the farm hasn’t applied phosphorus and potassium fertilizers in the last 30 years. He shared many tips in hopes that local farmers could take one or two back to their farms.

“We’re learning how to do better things with our food today. I hope I can bring across that farmers don’t have to change very much, but they can learn to reduce, improve the quality of their grains that we produce, which will improve the quality of food,” Brandt said. “I firmly believe you can change soils – but you have to be serious about it.”

Dodge County Farmers actively pursue ways to improve soil health and water quality. At the meeting, various speakers shared how they measure their effects through a member conservation survey, the group’s two cost-share programs and a nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) program.

Shawn Wesener, data collection specialist for Farmers for Sustainable Food, helped track conservation practice outcomes. DCF membership has a majority of crop farmers, with corn and soybean rotation being the most common rotation, followed by corn, soybean and winter wheat as the second most adopted.

He shared that the group is heavily involved in cover crop usage in this area. They’re also doing a great job planting a green cover crop in the spring, which is highly adapted. This year was the first year of survey results for the group, establishing a baseline to make comparisons as the group advances into the future.

Bill Stangel is an advisory board member of DCF and a private crop consultant. He presented on the Nitrogen Use Efficiency program. The overall goal of this program is to help farmers dial in their nitrogen management. The program also identified resource concerns of contaminated groundwater and elevated nitrate levels across the county.

“So we thought, here’s an opportunity for us to get in front of it and help address that resource concern that we have and dial in the economic opportunity presented to us this season,” Stangel said.

The participants put together 16 replicated nitrogen trials across the county, including one in Rock County and two in Jefferson County. These are scattered across 12 different farms. The next step is compiling this data by management system based on previous crop cover, crop use and termination timing. Being the first year, there aren’t many conclusions yet, but this will be an excellent project to watch over time with the breadth and density of the data set.  

The group hosted several events this past summer highlighting different practices throughout the county. A farmer panel moderated by Will Fulwider, UW-Extension, gave more depth to innovation behind those farmers’ practices. Matt Wondra, Jeff Gaska, David Roche and Chris Conley all shared on topics including planting green, interseeding cover crops into standing corn and rotational grazing on cover crops. The farmers shared their thought processes behind why they started these practices and how they’ve worked on their farms and larger farming system.

“To get started, pick a small spot,” Gaska said. “I picked a field no one could see and didn’t worry what others would think because they wouldn’t see it. Now I do it right in front because I know it works, and I’m proud of it.”

Fuldwider shared the group and area farmers have a great opportunity to do more rotational grazing on cover crops.

“I think as people become more comfortable with cover crops, especially cover crops planted after wheat, or if you’re interseeding, I think that opens up a huge opportunity to graze as cover crops,” Fuldwider said.

One of the most significant benefits of being a member of DCF is learning from other members about what has been successful and what they have learned not to do again. The group plans to host more field days to continue these conversations this summer.

At the members’ meetings, DCF held an election for the board of directors bringing on one new member, Randy Braker. Returning board members are Tony Peirick, president; Marty Weiss, vice president; Brendon Blank, secretary; David Roche, Treasurer; Chris Conley and Jeff Gaska. The group also works closely with advisory board members Bill Stangel, Will Fulwider, Philip Laatsch, Bill Nass, Robert Bird, Andrew Condon, Dale Macheel, Jared Winter and John Bohnonek.

Cover crops and reducing inputs to increase profit – David Brandt to share at Soil Health Expo

Soil health has been a growing interest to many farmers in Dodge County for several years. Cover crops are nothing new to Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil Healthy Water (DCF). The group hosts a Soil Health Expo in Dodge County to encourage more participation in conservation in their county. This year, the expo will be from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Feb. 8.

Registration is required for this event; $50 includes lunch and the social event after the expo. The morning will begin with networking time with coffee, donuts and vendor booths. The meeting will start at 10 a.m with updates from DCF President Tony Peirick and lead right into formal presentations. Local farmers, Matt Wondra, Jeff Gaska, Dave Roche and Chris Conley will participate on an innovation panel moderated by Will Fuldwider from UW Extension. Attendees will explore topics about soil health through presentations by:

David Brandt, an Ohio farmer, is a nationally recognized cover crop expert. He farms 950 acres — all no-till — in Fairfield County, Ohio. He began no-till farming in 1971 and has been using cover crops since 1978. David has participated in yield plots for corn, soybeans and wheat into various covers. This information has been used by seed growers, county agents and universities to encourage other farmers to adopt no-till practices in their farming operations.

He has also been planting various blends of cover crops to find out what benefits they provide to improve soil health. David co-owns Walnut Creek Seeds, LLC with his son and daughter-in-law, Jay and Ann Brandt. David has had articles published in Farm Journal, Ohio Farmer, Country Journal and numerous no-till journals. He has worked in cooperation with The Ohio State University, University of Illinois, Penn State University, Purdue University and Milan Research Farm in Tennessee.

Brandt will be speaking about the work he is presently doing with OSU Randall Reeder and Dr. Islam on reducing input costs of fertilizers and herbicides using various cover crops which improve soil health. He is also working with the regional NRCS soils lab in Greensboro, N.C. on the benefits of cover crops to improve soil health. David Brandt has received many awards for conservation practices.

Shawn Wesener, data collection specialist for Farmers for Sustainable Food, works directly with farmers to help track conservation practice outcomes. Wesener has a professional background in agriculture and public planning. As a certified crop adviser, he most recently served as a precision agriculture specialist for Country Visions Cooperative, based in Brillion, Wis. He is now supporting farmer-led groups in their conservation efforts by working directly with farmers and crop advisers to capture the data needed to drive sustainability projects and support continuous improvement. He will be presenting the findings from DCF’s 2022 member conservation practices survey results.


Who: Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil Healthy Water  

What: 2023 Soil Health Expo

When: 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Feb. 8

Where: Juneau Community Center, 500 Lincoln Dr., Juneau

Meeting agenda

  • DCF year in review: Tony Peirick, DCF president
  • DCF conservation outcomes: Shawn Wesener, Farmers for Sustainable Food
  • Cover crops for soil health and reducing inputs to increase profitability: Dave Brandt, Ohio No-till Farmer
  • Farmer innovation panel: Matt Wondra, Jeff Gaska, Dave Roche and Chris Conley moderated by Will Fulwider, UW Extension

Fall wrap-up member social

Fall wrap-up
Everyone is welcome to come to discuss what worked on their farms and what didn’t. It’s a time to share and learn with other local farmers. Will Fulwider will be moderating the conversation.
The event is sponsored by Schmidtt Crop Services.
There will be beer and pizza available.
Thank you to our hosts Nancy and Charlie

Grazing interseeded covers for profitability: Do the numbers pencil out?

_DCF - Nov. 18 (1)
Join us for coffee and doughnuts on Friday, Nov. 18.
Jeff Gaska will talk about his experience interseeding covers and grazing setup.
Will Fulwider, Dodge and Dane County Extension Crops Educator will talk on if this practice will pencil out.
Address: N4301 County Rd. TT, Columbus (Park by the barn to the right and we will walk to the field)