Gold Star Farms
Some farmers focus on yield and profit. David Geiser is also driven by conservation and education.
A quiet leader, Geiser listens to others and learns about innovative practices before putting them to work at Gold Star Dairy. His reputation as a respected farmer and conservationist stems from his devotion to improve the health of soil, water, plants and cattle.
Geiser is passionate about learning how to best manage the fragile karst topography that his family has farmed between Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago for more than a century.
Geiser came home to begin dairy farming in 1975. Installing a Natural Resources Conservation Service-approved manure storage facility in the 1980s was a huge undertaking, but the right thing to do. He established a successful rotational grazing system for his 100-cow herd in the 1990s. He witnessed how grazing allowed plants and soil to retain water rather than running off and compromising water quality. He was a founding member of the Calumet County Forage Council and received the Midwest Forage Council’s Pacesetter Award.
In 2000 straight line winds destroyed the farm’s barns. Like other dairies, Geiser and his wife, Deb Reinhart, had been growing their herd’s size to adapt to changes in the dairy economy. Decisions had to be made about the farm’s future.
Grazing paddocks gave way to a freestall barn for more than 400 cows, but the acres of grass that surrounded the farmstead remained as a prudent way to minimize runoff and soil erosion. Geiser grows cover crops to feed his cattle and soil. He has hosted outreach and research efforts that examine how water moves through fractured bedrock systems and the unique geological features of karst. Fields with shallow bedrock are identified and carefully managed. Conservation practices adopted include vegetated buffer strips and no-till cultivation practices. Paved ditches and leachate storage areas transport and collect runoff responsibly.
Geiser was one of the first Calumet County farmers to obtain a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan through the NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. His conservation practices have been passed on to the farmers that grow Gold Star Dairy’s feed. Gold Star Farms received the Calumet County Land Conservation Award in 2004.
Geiser has gone the extra mile to ensure a legacy at Gold Star Farms. His younger business partners and family members are mindful of the conservation enhancements found on their piece of rolling Wisconsin landscape.
Through hard work, perseverance, well-thought out decisions and luck, the farm has survived and thrived under Geiser’s leadership. Today on the 106-year-old family farm, Geiser continues to adapt, learn and implement conservation practices that will leave the land as a living legacy for generations to come.