WI Land+Water, DATCP Recognizes Conservation Farm Family of the Year at the 2018 Conservation Observance Day

The Yanke family of Sauk County hosts tour of Echo-Y Farms in celebration of decades of outstanding land stewardship

August 21, 2018 |

LOGANVILLE – WI Land+Water, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and Sauk County Department of Conservation, Planning and Zoning (CPZ) recognized the Yanke family and Echo-Y Farms for their innovative conservation practices and outstanding land stewardship at the 2018 Conservation Observance Day, held at Echo-Y Farms in Loganville last Friday. The public event showcased the Yanke family’s conservation practices and acknowledge the significant contributions Echo-Y Farms has made for generations of conservation farming in their community and across Wisconsin.

“Conservation Observance Day is a moment to applaud the tremendous efforts and accomplishments of a farming operation that shows environmental stewardship and agriculture go hand-in-hand,” said WI Land+Water Executive Director Matt Krueger. “The farming techniques employed by the Yanke family, which not only acts in harmony with nature, but in fact enhances the health of the ecological community, serves as a model for the future of agriculture in Wisconsin. The Yankes’ tireless improvements to their operation and their products are an inspiration for the rest of us.”

“DATCP is pleased to partner with Wisconsin Land+Water to highlight the important work being done to protect our soil and water and to recognize the successful efforts of farm families like the Yankes’ for their commitment to implementing sound conservation practices,” said DATCP Secretary Sheila Harsdorf, who attended the event. “Conservation Observance Day is not only an important opportunity for farmers to see first-hand best practices, but also to acknowledge our state’s commitment to agriculture and preservation.”

Attended by conservationists and farmers from across Wisconsin, the event included a cover crop/soil health tour and a rotational grazing tour led by the Yanke family, breakfast and lunch, as well as soil health and farm equipment demonstrations. Sauk County CPZ worked closely with the Yankes to organize and host the event.

“Sauk County was honored to nominate the Yanke family for Conservation Farm Family of the Year and host Conservation Observance Day,” said Sauk County CPZ Resource Conservationist Melissa Keenan. “The Yankes are innovative farmers who are working hard to build resilient soils that can withstand extreme weather events and help keep farmland productive and sustainable. Just like today, they gladly share their experiences with other by hosting field days, pasture walks, and workshops on their farm.”

Echo-Y Farm is a 4th generation farm, owned and operated by the Yanke family. The expansive operation includes 760 acres of cropland and 275 acres of perennial pasture. The Yankes have been conservation-minded farmers since the 1960s.

The operation is 100 percent no-till and currently use single and multi-species cover crop mixes. The cover crop mix also promotes pollinator habitats by including flower species. Recently, the Yankes started roller crimping their cover crops to plant green and reduce pesticide and herbicide applications. These practices improve soil health by increasing water and oxygen infiltration in the soil, naturally reinforcing the field’s nutrient cycle.

In addition to their responsible crop management, the Yanke family also rotationally graze Holstein heifers and a low-line angus beef herd. By intensively managing their pastures, they are able to graze their cattle as late as February without providing supplemental feed. Incredibly, this also allows the operation to keep the cattle outdoors year-round, resulting in a completely pasture-raised environment for the animals’ entire lifespan.

Thank you to the all the volunteers and guest speakers, including representatives from USDA-NRCS, that helped make this event possible. For more information about the event, visit Sauk County CPZ’s website.

About the Conservation Farm Family of the Year Award

The Conservation Farm Family of the Year Award is given by WI Land+Water annually to recognize the outstanding achievements of Wisconsin landowners that incorporate conservation practices into their operation for the betterment of their land, waters, and their community. Recipients are awarded at WI Land+Water’s annual conference and then become the hosts for that year’s Conservation Observance Day. For more information about the award, visit our website.


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