Herricks family receives 2014 Leopold Conservation Award
Jack and Pat Herricks, along with two of their three children, operate a 600-cow dairy farm in Cashton in the rolling hills of Monroe County.
The Herricks have practiced no till farming since 1992 before many farmers had considered it. Jack made up his mind to become a no till farmer when he could see erosion on his cropland. Today, erosion is reduced substantially, even on the steep hillsides the family farms.
Inspired by his father’s land ethic, Jack Herricks’ decades-long commitment to conservation has proven that good land management and profitability go hand in hand.
In addition to no-till farming, the Herricks’ practices include reduction of runoff into area waterways, forestry management, enhancement of wildlife habitat and careful manure management.
Sod waterways allow rainwater to run on grass to the stream below. Where a great deal of water comes together, the Herricks have built erosion control structures to prevent damage downstream. The structures also maintain a pool of water that benefits wildlife on the farm.
Water quality in Brush Creek has improved with help from the Herricks’ conservation efforts. The waterway was considered a dead trout stream some twenty years ago. Today, Brush Creek has improved from a Class III forage fishery to a sustainable trout stream with active natural reproduction of fish.
The family also made a decision to stop grazing in the farm’s woodland areas. Over time, natural re-vegetation of oak, maple and hickory trees has taken place.
“When I think of farmers as conservationists, one farmer comes to mind as having a truly
contagious passion for agriculture and natural resources: Jack Herricks.” said Monroe County Soil & Water Conservationist, Bob Micheel. “Jack has shown
leadership in wise land use management by always stepping up and addressing land use issues, even if it meant taking some risks. He took those risks because he acutely understands taking care of the land means that it will take care of you, and, in turn, protect his farm for the future.”
Sand County Foundation is a private, non-profit conservation group dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. Sand County’s mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and their rural landscapes. Sand County Foundation works with private landowners because the majority of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and natural resources are found on private lands. The organization backs local champions, invests in civil society and places incentives before regulation to create solutions that endure and grow. The organization encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health as an essential alternative to many of the commonly used strategies in modern conservation.
The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is Wisconsin’s largest general farm organization. It represents nearly 24,000 farms and agriculturists who belong to one of 61 county Farm Bureaus found across the state. Much like Wisconsin’s diverse agricultural landscape, Farm Bureau members represent all farm commodities, and all farm sizes and management styles. Farm Bureau’s mission is to lead the farm and rural community through legislative representation, education, public relations, and leadership development.