Attendees at the 2018 Field Day learned about soil layers and soil health, along with a whole suite of other conservation practices that protect the land and water. submitted photo
By Jennifer Fjelsted
For farmers, trying to navigate how best to manage your fields can sometimes be a maize. You may feel like you are barley surviving from wheat to wheat. With the added pressure to take care of the environment while increasing crop yields, you might feel udderly beet.
All puns aside, our agricultural neighbors are under a lot of pressure to provide for their families, supply our community with affordable, nutritious food, and manage their land for profit, yield and sustainability. Throw in the uncertainty of markets and weather, and it is easy to see that farmers have a lot on their plates.
Richard “Duke” Dukelow is a long-time area farmer who has been adopting conservation practices over the years. Duke and his daughter, Ronnie, are this year’s hosts of the Land & Lake Family Field Day, a free event sponsored by the Green Lake Association and Green Lake County Farm Bureau, with several other local organizations as part of the planning team.
The father-daughter duo is revamping the structure of the previous two years’ conservation field days. They intend to use their story to show how preserving local farms requires a family effort that spans generations.
The field day aims to bring together farmers, families, community members and lake lovers to learn something new, share a meal and have some fun.
Participants will hear from farmers of various generations about how conservation practices have helped them overcome challenges. Demonstration plots and equipment will show how producers have improved tillage practices — trading in the moldboard plow, chisel plow and ridge tillers for no-till planters and cover crops — which are better at handling rainfall, improving crop yields, and protecting the quality of nearby water resources.
Nodding to the family focus, the free event will offer live music (from a bass instrument fashioned from a trash can lid!), lunch, a petting farm, face painting and other kid-friendly events. Vendors will be on site to offer information about cover crops, lawn care, soil testing, nutrient management plans, and shoreline restoration.
While Duke hopes to show that conservation practices can be practical and profitable, his work as a farmer reflects his faith, too. He said, “I have a God-given moral obligation to take care of the land” in a way that considers the health of the soil to preserve it for future generations.
The Land and Lake Family Field Day is free and open to the public. The event will take place Saturday, Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Dukelow farm, located at W2026 County B Road, Markesan.
Duke and his daughter Ronnie stand in a field at their farm in Markesan. They are hosts for this year’s Land & Lake Family Field Day, where attendees will see and learn about conservation practices for their fields or their lawns; plus, enjoy food, music and children’s activities will be onsite to provide fun for the whole family. submitted photo
Participants are encouraged to RSVP online or by phone to provide an accurate head-count for the complimentary lunch. For more information, visit www.greenlakeassociation.com or call the GLA office at 294-6480.
Jennifer Fjelsted is the communication and project manager for the Green Lake Association, a local not-for-profit that works to improve water quality for Green Lake.