Continuous improvement with partners

By Don Niles, board president

Hello and happy autumn 2020. After surviving the enormous challenges of 2019, it is a wonderful break to be in the fields with this year’s conditions. Harvest is progressing smoothly and steadily up and down the peninsula. We are chopping corn when it is ready and gearing up for getting fields fertilized at the proper time, without hardly breaking a sweat.

The leadership of PPF has been working hard and pushing the organization to continuously change in our own right. We have started a program called “Conservation Conversations” that many of you are already aware of. These are brief monthly meetings, occurring on different farms, which feature a discussion on a conservation practice on that farm. These short events at the end of the workday have been very popular with members and will certainly be continued. 

Another first, is we were able to offer cost-share funds to non-members who are interested in what we are doing and wanted to try new conservation practices themselves. This was made possible with the generous support of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which remains a solid supporter of PPF and what we do. (See page 5 for an update from TNC).

Many of you may recall that we instituted a new program in 2019, where we met with both county conservation departments, as well as the DNR immediately before beginning of fall manure hauling.  The meeting last year was very well attended, which was a strong indicator of the level of concern farmers and regulators both had with the weather conditions of the time. We repeated a similar meeting this year as well (story on page 1).

This time attendance was considerably lighter due mainly to the fact that everybody was chopping on a beautiful day. However, a couple of things at this meeting caught my attention. One was a reminder from all departments about the importance of pre-tillage to break up conduits in dry cracked soil. The other thing was the enthusiastic appreciation all departments have for the more common practice of farmers and applicators calling local government agencies ahead of time to inform them where, when and how we plan on applying manure in the upcoming days. This is strictly voluntary and not a requirement.  However, it allows for the efficient use of their time if they know where activity is planned and can set their schedule accordingly. 

The point was even brought up that if they receive a complaint on the phone it’s nice to be able to say, “I was just out there checking on things a couple hours ago and things look great.”  This informal practice is just one more example of continuous improvement and transparency.

Thanks to all PPF members and supporters for your continued efforts to improve.

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