Established in 1848, Brickstead Dairy has been a family affair for five generations. Since partnering with his father in the 1990s, Dan Brick has expanded the dairy to include 900 cows. While the size of the dairy has changed over the years, conservation remains at the heart of this family business and the pulse that keeps the farm running.
Dan’s journey to conservation started in 2011 after a spring runoff event. The loss of sediment was so severe that it left him feeling embarrassed as a farmer. He realized that the conventional practices he had been using were no longer sustainable and that to continue farming, he would have to change his approach.
In 2014, Dan participated in the Fox Demo Farms Project, which was designed to demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability of conservation practices to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, control phosphorous runoff and address nonpoint source pollution issues. Although the program only required enrolling 200 acres of land, Dan was the only enrolled producer to implement no-till and cover crops on 100 percent of his land, which includes 1,500 acres.
Over the past few years, Dan has committed to “plant into green.” Instead of conventionally tilling and planting into a brown field, he plants into a living cover crop such as wheat or winter rye. By planting into cover crops, Dan ensures the ground is continuously covered to help the soil and its nutrients stay on the field rather than the local waterways.
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. Dan has taken advantage of many media opportunities through his participation on Fox Demo Farms to share lessons he has learned in transitioning to a more conservation-focused farm.
“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.”