Help fight invasive species with the Wisconsin First Detector Network


University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Mark Renz and Tony Summers will be offering online training to the public on invasive species identification. For more information about the Wisconsin First Detector Network, please read their press release below.

Invasive species are expanding throughout the state of Wisconsin each year. While these species are often overlooked, they are impacting our state’s economy, environment, and even human health. Wisconsin’s First Detector Network (WIFDN) was established in 2014 to train citizen scientists help prevent these impacts by looking for and reporting invasive species. In the inaugural year we trained over 100 people that contributed over 700 hours towards this effort.
In 2015 we are seeking additional members to train (existing members can participate for free). What does it take to become a WIFDN volunteer?
1. Passion for protecting Wisconsin from invasive species

2. Register for training videos/webinars ($30 registration fee, see below)

3. Volunteer 24 hours of service towards invasive species monitoring or education

Participants will receive detailed training on invasive species biology, impacts, and identification as well as the opportunity to participate in projects specifically designed for WIFDN members.
It all begins March 13th with the first of 5 biweekly webinars.
Click here to register for the 2015 WIFDN training. Registration is $30 and open until March 26, 2015. If you cannot afford the registration limited scholarships are available please contact us!
See our website for more details about WIFDN and the training session:
Tony Summers, WIFDN Coordinator; PHONE: 608 262-9570;

UWEX Using Wood Energy Webinar Series


Cooperative Extension will be hosting a series of webinars this winter discussing how and why to consider using wood for energy. For more information, please read Scott Sanford’s press release below:

Contact: Scott Sanford,, 608-262-5062

Wisconsin Refuels with Wood Energy webinar series scheduled for February – April

Madison, Wis. – Wood is an abundant resource in Wisconsin and can be used to replace fossil fuel that is imported into the state thus creating jobs and keeping money in Wisconsin. Businesses, schools, greenhouses and residences currently using LP gas, heating oil or electricity may be able to reduce their energy cost with the use of efficient wood burning appliances.

The Statewide Wood Energy Team (SWET), a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to promote the efficient use of wood energy for heating, processing and power, is hosting a series of educational webinars entitled “Wisconsin Refuels with Wood Energy” on the efficient use of wood energy.

The webinars are scheduled for Wednesdays at 1 p.m. from Feb. 18 through April 8. The webinars are free but registration is required.

Topics include:
· How Wood Energy Compares to Fossil Fuels;
· Wood Fuel Types and Combustion Appliances;
· Economics and Case Studies of Wood Combustion Systems;
· Feasibility Assessment Tools;
· Financing Options;
· Wood Fuel Supply and Distribution;
· Industrial Wood Heating and Power Systems
· Cluster Development and District Heating

The webinars will cover everything from a residential wood burning stove to an industrial combined heat and power applications. Businesses using propane, heating oil or electricity for heating, Educators, Economic Development Agents, Rural School District Facility Managers, Municipal Facility Managers, Heating Contractors, Home Owners are encouraged to participate in the webinars.

Go to under the “Events and news” tab for a link to the registration.

This programming is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service to establish a Statewide Wood Energy Team (SWET). The SWET aims to expand markets that convert woody biomass into energy, advance installation of commercially viable wood energy systems in public and private facilities, and support wildfire mitigation, forest restoration, urban wood utilization and other forest management goals that utilize Wisconsin woody biomass.

The Core SWET members include the USFS, Wisconsin SEO, UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UW-Extension, Sustainability Resources Institute, Renewable Resources Solutions, Marth Companies, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and Heating the Midwest. To learn more, please visit:

Webinar: Cover Crop Economic Decision Tool

The USDA-NRCS is hosting a webinar discussing a new cover crop economics decision tool on January 22, 2015 at 2 PM. The presenters will show participants how to enter cropping information into the Excel-based tool and interpret the output. The webinar can be accessed by following this link.

Legal and Business Structure Workshop

Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is offering a workshop for farm and food businesses to discuss different types of business structures, property and employment law, and liability insurance issues. For more information, their press release is below:

Media Contact: Ann Marie Ames

Jim Dick, Communications Director

MADISON – Those who want to learn more about legal issues involved with starting and successfully maintaining farms and food businesses should register for next month’s Legal and Business Structure Workshop, which will take place in four locations around Wisconsin. The workshop is part of the annual Local Food Business Seminar Series, designed to help farmers and food business owners improve business practices.

The workshop speakers are Rachel Armstrong from Farm Commons and Courtney Berner of the UW Center for Cooperatives. This highly informative and interactive workshop will benefit those who are planning to start a food business, have recently done so, or who have been running a successful food business for some time.

Topics will include:

● The pros and cons of different business types including non-profit, S corporation or C corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC and cooperative.

● Property and employment law including short- and long-term farmland leases, incubator kitchen leases, workman’s compensation and laws regarding the hiring of employees and interns.

● Liability insurance issues including those regarding food safety and agritourism.

Armstrong and Berner will travel to four sites to deliver the workshop on four dates from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6. They will be in Waukesha on Nov. 3, Stevens Point on Nov. 4, Gays Mills on Nov. 5 and Madison on Nov. 6. The Madison seminar will be available online as a free webinar.

No matter the location, the cost of the seminar is $15 for the first person from any organization and $10 for any additional participants from the same organization. Something Special from Wisconsin members get a $5 discount.

Each seminar will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Check-in starts at 8:45 a.m. Lunch is included in the cost of the seminar.

To learn the addresses of the seminar site nearest you, to find a complete agenda or to sign up, go to

To request a link for the webinar or if you have other questions, contact Kietra Olson at (608) 224-5112 or

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, along with a number of partner organizations, plan the annual Local Business Seminar Series, which will continue monthly through March. The next in the series is food safety from Dec. 1 to Nov. 4. For a complete list, go to

USDA-NRCS Webinar Solar-powered Water Systems for Grazing

The USDA-NRCS will broadcast a webinar on August 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM on “Solar-powered Water Systems for Grazing Operations.” A recording will be made available one week after the event. For more information, visit their website here.

2014 Farm Bill: Changes in commodity support and crop insurance


If you missed the 2014 Farm Bill webinar, the webinar recording and presentation slides are now online.

Dr. Paul Mitchell reports that “in general, there is a 6% cut in total spending on commodity support, with new commodity support programs for grains (PLC/ARC) and dairy. Signup for these will likely occur in late summer of 2014 (August?). The big issue to note is that direct payments will not be made this fall and if a farmer gets a PLC/ARC payment for losses in the 2014 season, they will not come until fall 2015.”

Additionally, “crop insurance has changed only a little, with the most significant changes being conservation compliance requirements for crop insurance premium subsidies and a new policy called supplemental coverage option that lets farmer layer individual and county wide policies. Note: none of these will take effect until the 2015 season.” For more information, please visit Dr. Mitchell’s website

New USDA Cover Crop Termination Guidelines

The NRCS just released new cover crop termination guidelines. Recently, a webinar was held to discuss the new changes and answer questions. To access the archived webinar, “Cover Crops and Crop Insurance: Questions and Answers on USDA’s Cover Crop Termination Guides”, follow this link to the YouTube video. Most of the changes involve the termination guidelines for areas of the country with a summer fallow practice. The termination zone for Wisconsin is Zone 4 and the guidelines have not changed from the June 2013 to the December 2013 guideline release. To see the new termination guidelines released in December 2013 from the USDA-NRCS, go here. For the previous termination guidelines released in June 2013, go here.

In addition, the USDA’s Risk Management Agency just published a new cover crops fact sheet outlining their policy from a crop insurance standpoint. To access their fact sheet, go here. According to the RMA, a cover crop can be harvested for forage or grazed without violating your crop insurance policy. However, it is important to remember that when removing a cover crop as a forage crop the herbicide label restrictions must be followed when feeding to livestock. Also, removing biomass for forage may limit the benefits that you may expect for a cover crop. Researchers looking at crimson clover managed as a cover crop with no removal versus a spring forage harvest found that corn grain and yields were higher in the fields with the cover crop compared to the forage crop 1. However, in another study with cereal rye (Secale cereale) in a corn grain system, removal of the aboveground rye biomass did not affect the subsequent corn crop yield 2. Aside from yield, removing biomass for forage can impact soil health. In a 5 year study of three cover crops in a corn grain system, removal of the cover crop biomass reduced soil organic carbon and nitrogen 3.


  1. Holderbaum, J.F.; Decker, A.M.; Meisinger, J.J.; Mulford, F.R.; Vough, L.R. Harvest management of a crimson clover cover crop for no-tillage corn production. 1990 Agronomy Journal 82(5): 918-923.
  2. Tollenaar, M.; Mihajlovic, M.; Vym, T.J. Corn growth following cover crops: influence of cereal cultivar, cereal removal, and nitrogen rate. 1993 Agronomy Journal 85(2): 251-255.
  3. Kuo, S.; Jellum, E.J. Influence of winter cover crop and residue managment on soil nitrogen availability and corn. 2002 Agronomy Journal 94(3): 501-508.

Resources for Wisconsin Farmers, Part I

This post is the first in a series highlighting resources available to farmers in the state of Wisconsin. This week- free webinars from the Buy Fresh Buy Wisconsin program.

DATCP and the Buy Local Buy Wisconsin offer free webinars throughout the year, including the “Online AgriMarketing: Planning Before You Plant”, by Scott Skelly of Corn Mazes America in Janesville, WI. For an archive of all webinars, go here.

The webinars cover specific topics within knowledge areas of finance, marketing, and on-farm management. Have you thought about using Quickbooks or want to learn more? The archive contains both beginning and intermediate courses. Perhaps you are considering direct market sales, Rachel Armstrong discusses the legal issues that confront farmers selling directly to consumers.

Next week. . . the Wisconsin Farm Center