Mark owns A-OK Farms LLC, a dairy farm in eastern Sheboygan County. He milks 440 cows and his cropland consists of heavy red clay that he considers both a blessing and a curse. He was doing conservation practices for about 20 years before joining SRPF, but the group's goals align well with what he is trying to accomplish. Mike Patton at NRCS encouraged Mark to try different practices over the years. Patton has helped Mark start small and work up from there. He's been increasing his use of conservation practices for the past five years.
Advice Mark would offer to a new member is to start with one field and see how it goes. Don't give up; mother nature is challenging and sometimes what works one year will be a total failure the next year. Mark found that by trying a new conservation practice he got another crop of high-quality forage to harvest for the dairy cows.
Mark finds benefit in SRPF by seeing demonstration plots and talking with other farmers. Farmers are learning how to measure progress as they move forward. He knows and understands that it's important to be a sustainable farm because soil is not replaceable. He feels he pays to apply nutrients to the soil, not to "feed the fish". He also wants the next generation to have healthy and productive soils.