- Fruits: general small fruits
- Crop Production: cover crops, organic fertilizers, strip tillage
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, youth education
- Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, value added, agritourism
- Natural Resources/Environment: grass waterways
- Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting, physical control, mulching - plastic, sanitation, mulching - vegetative
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures
The Driftless area of Western Wisconsin is mostly made of highly erodible land. New and different farm enterprises are needed to preserve farmland while controlling erosion. Two acres of tillable soil are located in a highly erodible area of land on our farm. We will utilize these two acres by planting black currants to help manage the erosion. Todd Mau, Buffalo County Natural Resources Conservation Service will lay out the property in contour strips to reduce erosion during serve storm runoff events. Two different varieties will be planted and evaluated for yield and quality. Yields will be determined by picking fruit from a sample of plants of each variety weighing and recording data.
Mulch prices and their ease of use vary greatly. A vibrant logging industry in western Wisconsin has made wood chips and bark available at low cost. Unfortunately, this market and availability vary with the housing market and demand for hardwood products. Fabric and plastic mulches are easy to use, but expensive to purchase. Data on possible varietal interacts with different mulches is not available and will also be collected with this project.
Four different mulches will be used in the planting. Each variety will be planted usfng the four mulches. Mulch products include; wood shavings, fabric cloths, grass clippings, and black plastic. These mulch covers will be evaluated to help understand the differences and ultimately determine which covers are best for controlling erosion, weeds, and disease, and for maximizing yield.
The field will be planted alternating mulch every two rows. Weed control and disease presence will be monitored and recorded throughout the next two seasons. Sample yields from each treatment will be recorded at harvest time and compared for differences.
Yields, weed pressure, disease pressure, and soil loss will all be monitored for at least two years. Information for scouting has been gathered from the following source, "Currant and Gooseberry Pests", Developed by Kim Hummer and Joseph Postman USDA/ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository Corvallis, Oregon - March 2000.
Finally, the two varieties of currants will be evaluated for both juice and wine qualities. A local vineyard/wine maker will evaluate the quality for wine. Jellies and juice quality will be evaluated by the farm owners along with friends and work colleagues in the cities where our daughters/partners live. An added (but formal) part of the project will look at using composted dairy manure as a fertilizer amendment for the currants.