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Seven years of water-quality monitoring have intensified the Bragger family’s commitment to conservation. “We have to be aggressive in farming — we have families to support,” Bragger says. “But at the same time, we have to take care of our land so the next generation can farm. If we run it down, wash it out, destroy it, it won’t be there for future generations.”
Bragger Family Farms, Independence, Wisc.
Farm operators: Joe and Noel Bragger; Dan and Mary Bragger
Setting: Hills and narrow valleys with small streams at the base of hills; slope ranges from 6% to 33%.
Acreage: 1,080 cropped acres
Crops: Corn for grain and silage, soybeans, winter wheat, alfalfa, fall cover crops.
Livestock: 300 dairy cows; 64,000 pullets; 55,000 broilers; 4,000 brown trout.
Conservation awards: Leopold Conservation Award,2011; Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Board Conservation Farmers of the Year, 2002.
Leadership: Joe Bragger, 47, is past president of the Wisconsin Soybean Association and serves on the board of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. He also serves on the University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms Joint Steering committee.