Our 2023 Results

DCF 2023 Progress Report

Dodge County farmers continue mission to improve local soil and water quality

2023 annual report demonstrates the group’s continued conservation efforts

JUNEAU, Wis. — Looking out across his fields and seeing the soil in place, Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water member, Ken Gault knows what he is doing is making a difference. Seeing the continual improvements of incorporating conservation practices motivates him to keep looking for new ways to protect his fields.

A third-generation dairy farmer, Gault owns and operates Gault Valley Farms in Neosho with his brother, Dave, and their families.

Incorporating technology and innovation into their farm is not new for the Gaults. They use robotic milkers and calf feeders on their 300-cow dairy farm to eliminate the more labor-intensive jobs. Although the brothers have been on the farm throughout their lives, they took ownership of the 79-year-old multi-generation family farm in 2004 when they purchased it from their parents.

“Through all those years, it was conventional farming,” Gault said. “In 2009 we started converting to no-till, and we planted our first cover crops in 2011. Now, we’re 100% no-till and nearly all acres have cover crops. My long-term goal is to have a five-year crop rotation.”

Noticing the soil erosion on his farm was what motivated him to change his practices.

“We can’t be losing the top inch of soil to wind erosion,” he said. “That’s the most valuable part of our soil.”

Gault has been a DCF member since the group’s inception, and he’s made a lot of connections through the group.

“Being a part of this group has allowed me to recognize that I’m not alone in my sustainability journey,” Gault said. “We’re all going through similar things, facing the same challenges and learning from each other.”

Annual survey results

As a part of his membership, Gault participated in the group’s 2023 Member Conservation Practice Survey. The survey results reveal the collective conservation efforts among farmers in the group, highlighting potential environmental impacts and benefits to the local community.

The group, composed of 66 farmers, implemented various conservation practices, including planting a total of 17,680 acres of cover crops, using no-till and strip-till on 22,927 acres and planting into cover crops (otherwise known as “planting green”) on 12,305 acres. They also measured nutrient management impact on 28,253 acres.

Although the group’s farmers have been utilizing sustainable practices for much longer, this is their second year surveying their membership to document the practices. The results show potential environmental improvements due to the adoption of conservation efforts, providing valuable benefits to climate health, soil health and water quality:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 9,673 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, which is equal to greenhouse gas emissions produced by 2,302 cars driven in a year.
  • Prevention of sediment loss from farm fields of 74,316 tons, equivalent to 7,431 dump trucks’ worth of soil.
  • Reduction of phosphorus runoff by 65,241 pounds, potentially preventing 32.6 million pounds of algae growth in local water bodies.


Data was analyzed and verified by Farmers for Sustainable Food and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Older generations see improvements

Gault believes that sustainable farming practices have improved the soil structure on this farm. Even the older generations can see this, he says, despite them not having the same access to similar farmer-led groups and the tools and resources that are available today.

He recently started farming land that he took over from his 92-year-old neighbor.

“My neighbor and I went out on the field and dug up an earthworm. He was shocked by the soil structure,” he said. “Even someone who’s been conventional farming for his entire career can go onto our field and realize that this is what the soil should be like.”

Farmers or community members interested in joining or supporting this nonprofit, farmer-led group and their commitment to improving the environment can find out more information at dodgecountyfarmers.com.

By the numbers

Number of acres covered by conservation practices among Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water members:  

  • 2022 ― 127,393
  • 2023 ― 162,703


Potential impact of conservation practices in 2023:

  • Phosphorus runoff reduction ― 65,241 pounds
  • Sediment erosion reduction ― 74,316 tons
  • Carbon dioxide emission reduction ― 9,673 metric tons


About Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water:

Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water is a nonprofit farmer-led conservation group in Dodge County in Wisconsin whose members explore farming strategies that lead to improved soil health, greater farming efficiency, sustained profitability and reduced environmental impact. Members share information gained through field trials with fellow farmers and strive to foster an understanding of the role of agriculture in the community. More information: dodgecountyfarmers.com