Stories in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Farmers Leading on Conservation

Aerial view of a red tractor cutting long, curving rows into a broad green field.

Sharing lessons learned to keep soil healthy, water clean and farms resilient.

Working Lands Farmers like Steve Carpenter, shown here cutting hay, are working together to implement farm practices that build soil health and improve water quality. © Patrick Flood Photography LLC

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One of the best things about living in Wisconsin is the food—from summer sweet corn to the delicious cheese made by Wisconsin cheesemakers using milk produced by Wisconsin dairy cows.

But with food demand expected to increase by more than 50% by 2050 as the world’s population grows, how will farmers meet that demand in Wisconsin and elsewhere?

And how can they grow the food we need while protecting the health of their soil and keeping our waters clean?

A red tractor drives through an agricultural field of golden plant remains, creating neat rows in the earth.
Zone Tillage A tractor on Luedke Farms cuts small rows between last year's corn to prepare for next year's planting in the practice called zone tillage, which reduces erosion. © Patrick Flood Photography LLC

A small, but growing, number of Wisconsin farmers are working together to help find the answers. They have formed groups focused on their local watersheds and are implementing agricultural practices that build soil health and help improve water quality. Some of the practices they are using, such as cover crops and reduced tillage, will also help capture and hold carbon in the soil.

With support from Farmers for Sustainable Food, The Nature Conservancy and Wisconsin’s Producer-led Watershed Protection Grant Program, these farmers are sharing what they learn with each other and neighboring farmers, and they are setting goals and tracking conservation outcomes annually.

In the following profiles, you’ll meet five Wisconsin farmers who are leading the way on changing management practices. In doing so, they are not only protecting soil and water, but they are helping their farms remain resilient and profitable in the face of ever-changing conditions.

To learn more about each of the farmers, click on the tabs below. You can also hear from the farmers themselves in these interviews with Ricardo Silva, our agriculture strategies manager.

All photos © Patrick Flood Photography LLC