By MaryBeth Matzek for Peninsula Pride Farms
The ability to share ideas and experiences with other farmers drew Dave Jauquet to Peninsula Pride Farms when the organization launched in 2016.
“Being able to be in a room with other farmers and bounce off ideas and talk about what didn’t work and what did is so valuable,” he said.
Jauquet has 650 cows and farms just under 500 acres with his wife, Stacy, at their Luxemburg farm. Their heifers are raised off-site in the western part of the state by members of Stacy’s family.
Jauquet’s father purchased the farm in 1966, and in 2007 Dave and his brother Jeff formed a partnership to take over the farm. In 2014, Dave and his wife became the sole owners.
“I remember one day when Don (Niles, now president of Peninsula Pride Farms) called me and asked me to come out to (his dairy) to talk about some ideas he had,” Jauquet said. “I really didn’t know what to expect, but once I heard what he was thinking, I knew I wanted to be in.”
In addition to talking with other farmers, Jauquet has learned a lot from the field days. “You get to see what is being done elsewhere and can start thinking about if it’s something good for your farm,” he said.
Cover crop challenge
One of the group’s early initiatives was creating a cover crop challenge to educate more people about the use of cover crops and encourage them to give it a try. Jauquet jumped right in.
“I heard about it and thought, ‘Why not?’ I learned a lot about how cover crops worked and decided to try some different stuff,” he said.
Jauquet experimented with cover crops, using no-till practices with his corn crop and different manure-handling procedures.
“It’s a short, but steep learning curve,” he said. “Not everything works, but that’s OK. It’s important to try things out and learn from our mistakes.”
A level of trust
Talking with other farmers is essential since “you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time,” Jauquet said. “We communicate freely with each other and there’s a level of trust since we are all working toward the same thing — improved conservation.”
Peninsula Pride is vital to improving communication between Kewaunee and Southern Door County farmers and their neighbors, Jauquet said.
“That has been a huge benefit of all of this. They are learning what we’re doing and the improvements we are making each year. Communication is a huge part of what Peninsula Pride Farms does and it is so very important for everyone involved.”