Legislators and Ag Professionals visit Pioneer Farm

October 1, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE-University of Wisconsin-Platteville's Pioneer Farm was a highlight of the third biannual ag tour coordinated by the Wisconsin Agribusiness Council. Nearly 45 state legislators and agribusiness professionals took part in the tour designed to help legislators better understand agriculture and agribusiness in the state.

The group started the day with a catered breakfast in Pioneer Farm's educational center, sponsored in part by the Wisconsin Pork Association. Following breakfast and brief welcomes from UWP Chancellor David Markee and Dean Duane Ford, individuals chose to tour the new swine facility, environmental research stations, or the dairy center.

Although still under construction, the swine facility proved to be a fascinating sight. While touring the swine facility, Alicia Prill-Adams, UWP assistant farm director, pointed out a very unique aspect to the new facility. Prill-Adams stated, "This is called a 'high rise' hog facility because there are two levels. The hogs are on the main level and the basement level is used for manure collection and composting. This system should provide a virtually odorless environment."

The environmental research tour allowed participants to get a close-up view of one of Pioneer Farm's water monitoring stations. Dr. Tom Hunt, Pioneer Farm Director of Research and Outreach, explained how a station works and also related preliminary results from the monitoring. Dr. Hunt commented, "Pioneer Farm is collecting data which is in line with what we expected, but we are also finding some surprises such as the amount of soluble Phosphorus contained in snowmelt. This data should provide baseline information that will help producers minimize soil and nutrient loss."

Phil Wyse, Pioneer Farm Director of Production and Operations and Cory Weigel, Pioneer Farm Dairy Enterprise Manager, led the tour of the dairy center. The group visited the milk parlor, tie stall and free stall facilities and the solar calf-housing unit. Wyse also shared current plans for the new dairy center that anticipates a robotic milker, and plans for rotational grazing research.

"It is very important for Pioneer Farm to keep up with the times," stated Wyse. He continued, "If we want to be a leader in agriculture and a leader for the Wisconsin Agriculture Stewardship Initiative, we need to continuously improve. We also want to be good neighbors and good stewards of the land."

When asked about the tour, Representative Gabe Loeffelholz stated, "Agriculture must move forward. Nothing stays the same whether it be ag, education, transportation, or medical treatments. Pioneer Farm's facilities and research projects should help discover new ideas to help agriculture advance in the state of Wisconsin."

The tour concluded with a sneak peek at the new Ag Technology Center. The group was amazed with the technology and equipment of the center. The Center will officially open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Oct. 10. The public is invited to attend the ceremony.

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