Koepke Farms Inc. is a partnership between brothers Alan, David, Jim and Jim’s son John. Together, they milk 320 cows and operate 1,000 acres of cropland plus another 150 acres of woods and wetlands.
They are one of the first farms in their area to adopt a completely no-till system and utilize conservation practices such as contour strip cropping, diversified crop rotation, nutrient management and use of cover crops and grassed waterways.
The Koepkes are great dairymen in addition to being innovative land stewards. When they took home the ‘Dairymen of the Year’ Award at the 2011 World Dairy Expo in Madison it was for a variety of reasons, including raising a Holstein named “Granny” that once broke the world record for lifetime milk production. She is just one example of the care and management that you see in every facet of this farming operation, making it highly sustainable both economically and environmentally. The net result is healthy soil, cleaner water and greater farm profits.
Being active in the agricultural community, both close to home and beyond, the Koepkes’ contributions have helped to shape several important agricultural policies over the years. The efforts they have made in preserving their own land transcends into the work they do preserving agricultural land across the state.
While the list of conservation practices adopted over the years is quite extensive, the power of the Koepkes’ approach to sustainability is that it is easily adaptable to virtually any farming system. It is not designed around expensive or complicated technologies that are farm size specific, or intimidating to users. The foundation of their system is good management and attention to detail, based on sound soil and water principles.
“Conservation is not just something they do, it is the essence of who they are,” wrote Nancy Drummy in her nomination of the Koepke family. “Their commitment to sustainability and to educating others has created measurable change within the farming community.”