Established in 1848, Brickstead Dairy is a fifth-generation farm in Brown County, Wisconsin. Since partnering with his father in the 1990s, Dan Brick has grown the farm's dairy herd to 900 cows.
Dan says a spring runoff event in 2011 was a turning point for the farm along a tributary to the East River, which feeds into the Fox River. The loss of sediment off his fields was so severe that he knew the conventional practices he had been using were no longer sustainable. To continue farming he would have to change his approach.
In 2014, Brickstead Dairy was one of four farms in the Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Project. The effort was designed to demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability of conservation practices that reduce soil erosion and phosphorous runoff to reduce water pollution. Program participation required enrolling 200 acres. After seeing initial results, Dan quickly adopted no-till and cover crops across all of his 1,500 acres.
He interseeds cover crops (a mix of clover, barley and hairy vetch) into his corn to provide ground cover in the fall, after the corn is chopped for silage. A diverse cover crop mix is also used to follow wheat. Brick said such efforts allow an entire field to act as a buffer from surface water.
On-going research on the farm involves monitoring the nitrogen levels from a tiling system and surface runoff from a five-acre portion of a corn field.
Brickstead Dairy was a participant in the UW Discovery Farms project, and regularly holds outreach events for the general public.
Dan has played a significant role in promoting conservation practices in his area. He acknowledges the impact agriculture has had on Green Bay and he is committed to helping promote practices that minimize impacts on the bay. He enjoys sharing his experiences with fellow farmers in the area, as well those who are not familiar with agriculture.
“I have worked with many producers throughout northeastern Wisconsin and without question, Dan Brick is the undisputed leader in conservation agriculture for this region of the state,” said Mike Mushinski, County Conservationist for Brown County. “I admire his unwavering commitment to not only implement new and innovative practices, but to also share his successes as well as failures.”