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Farmer-Led Council Celebrates 10 Years of Service to Farmers and Community


In 2022, more than 60 attendees came to the Horse Creek's annual meeting, hosted in the Carlson Family shop, to see how tillage and cover crops affected rainwater infiltration of differently managed soils at the demo plot.

The Horse Creek Area Farmer-Led Watershed Council will be hosting their annual farmer education forum and lunch on March 23rd from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Carlson Family Farm.


This year, they have invited Minnesota farmer, Myron Sylling, to speak on what he sees as the Next Steps in Soil Health. He will talk about his work to reduce inputs while increasing yield through nitrogen placement, nutrient testing, and product use. Myron comes highly recommended to the council as an adept speaker and great farmer who is able to clearly explain how he and his brother have managed their 1,600 acres with cover crops for 10 years.

Aside from the keynote speaker, the event will also provide updates on research from last year’s speaker, Dennis Busch, and his co-researcher Andrew Cartmill who performed soil health tests on the Horse Creek Demo Plot comparing tillage and cover crops trials. With 8 years of harvest data from the demo plot, the council is excited to be able to share a longer perspective on the performance of the five different trials.


Although the members are excited about the speakers and a chance to network with their neighbors, this year also holds a special milestone. 2023 marks the 10th year of existence of the Horse Creek Area Farmer-Led Watershed Council. One of the first of such councils in Wisconsin, their example of leadership in 2013-2015 directly influenced the creation of a $250,000 statewide budget initiative in 2016 to support additional Farmer-Led Watershed Councils. The program has since increased to $1 million and now supports 43 individual Farmer-Led Groups in 2023 across the state.


Beyond their impact on state programs, the Horse Creek Area Farmer-Led Watershed Council has directly served the community through water protection. In 10 years, the council has provided incentive payments to farmers to help prevent pollutants from entering water bodies like Cedar Lake, including payments for almost 6,000 acres of cover crops. Through their work, models show that they have prevented over 5,000 pounds of phosphorus from leaving fields and turning into 2.8 million pounds of algae. These practices don’t just benefit the water, though; through farmer education and incentive payments, the farmers of the Horse Creek Farmer-Led Council have been able to encourage other farmers in the region to adopt soil health practices that help them hone in on practices that save them money, improve their farms, and support a culture of stewardship.


This work could not have continued without the fantastic investment and support from local farmers who continue to provide their time, resources, and expertise to the council. Polk County staff have also been an unwavering partner to the council for 10 years and have provided an essential partner to the farmers to help them achieve their goals.


If you’re interested in attending the event, you can RSVP here or by contacting council coordinator, Tara, at tdaun@wisconsinfarmersunion.com or by calling or texting 715-492-0329. More information on the councils can be found at www.farmerledwatershed.org or on Facebook @farmerledwatershed.


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