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North Central Graziers Pasture Walk

Joe is having a Pasture Walk! It takes place Wednesday, October 7th 1-3:00 p.m. and focuses on transitioning grazing dairy farm to organic production. Guest speaker will be Dave Engel of Nature's International Certification Service (NICS).

September 29 2015

Joe & Christy Tomandl Farm #1 @ 7234 Gad Road, Medford

Topic: The ins and outs of organic transition.

Presenter: David Engel, Nature's International Certification Service (NICS)

Hosted by: The North Central Grazing Network and the Taylor County Land Conservation Dept.

Well known as promoters of managed grazing throughout Wisconsin, the Tomandl family (Joe, Christy and their 3 children) have been operating a successful grass based dairy in Taylor County for many years. Part of their success is the ability to generate a good income to support two farms, while also providing a high quality lifestyle for the farm family members. Joe's operation consists of two 170-cow seasonal grass dairy farms, on 520 acres of improved pastures. Since managed grazing was started on this farm in 1998 when Tomandls bought it, the organic matter content of the soil has increased greatly. The overall grazing management utilized by the Tomandls in meeting their long term goal of continuing to improve pasture productivity on their farm will help them avoid relying on expensive organic soil amendments.

This pasture walk will cover looking at the protocol and planning necessary to transition to organic production. When asked why they are transitioning - Joe stated that he believes the organic market is here to stay and this option was a good way to diversify revenue between the two farms. On June 1, the cows and their replacements started the 1year transition. Joe has had to buy much of next year's winter feed as his remaining fields fulfill the 3 year transition, but also needing to keep enough acres available for the 2nd farm to utilize. The 2-farm system has worked well during this new venture since Joe was able to keep the younger animals with the best percentage of grass genetics at the home farm, transfer the better conventional cows to the 2nd farm and cull the rest.

Joe will also discuss the importance of providing opportunities for longtime employees and his involvement with the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program. Learn what is it and how you can get involved as both a Master and as an Apprentice.

The Tomandls are working with Nature's International Certification Service (NICS) located in Virocqua, WI to do their organic certification. NICS is an organic certification agency founded to serve organic producers worldwide with their certification needs. We will help you step by step through the process of organic certification or grass-fed verification. NICS is accredited y the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) to assess the ability of organic operations (including crops, wild crops, livestock, and processing/handing operations) to implement, comply with and carry out the terms and conditions determined for organic management and products. David Engle, NICS Executive Director will be on hand to discuss the process of transitioning to organic production. More information can be found at www.naturesinternational.com. Please join us at the Tomandl farm #1 for this pasture walk and tour!

Directions from Medford: From the intersection of Hwy13 and 64, take Hwy 64 5-1/2 miles east to County Road C. Turn South on County Road C and go 2 miles to Willow Avenue (on the curve). Travel on Willow Avenue ½ mile to Gad Road. Turn south on Gad Road, the farm on the right side of the road.

Directions from Athens: Go north 6 miles on Hwy 97, then turn left (west) on Willow Avenue and go 4-1/2 miles to Gad Road. Turn South on Gad Road, the farm is on the right side of the road. Watch for pasture walk signs!

For more information, please contact Grazing Specialist Robert Brandt at (715) 965-6771, or the Taylor County Land Conservation Dept. at (715) 748-1469.

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