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‘Thursdays at the U’ to host presentation by Barron County conservationist and local farmer

| Linda Tollefsrud and Diane Walkoff

Photo caption: This field of rye cover crop at Four Mile Creek Dairy in Barron County has grown for five weeks after the field's corn silage harvest. (Photo by Tyler Gruetzmacher)

Tyler Gruetzmacher

Tyler Gruetzmacher, conservationist for Barron County (Submitted photo)

On Thursday, Nov. 4, Tyler Gruetzmacher, a conservationist for Barron County, and Jim Kusilek, who owns and operates Four Mile Creek Dairy in Hillsdale, will team up to present "CAFO Dairy Farm: A Good Neighbor?" for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire – Barron County "Thursdays at the U" lecture. The presentation will be from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall (Room 234, Ritzinger Hall) on the Rice Lake campus.

Jim Kusilek

Jim Kusilek, owner of Four Mile Creek Dairy in Hillsdale (Submitted photo)

Since Barron County has a diverse landscape, with farms, lakes and forests, Gruetzmacher works with all types of landowners to aid them in achieving compliance with the state standards to reduce runoff. Much of the department’s work has transitioned to increasing the health of the soil so that productivity increases while decreasing loss of topsoil.

Gruetzmacher and Kusilek will discuss how farms or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) work to balance productivity — providing milk to the consumer at a low price — with reducing runoff from the acreage and keeping as much carbon in the soil as possible. They will describe the steps Four Mile Creek Dairy takes to achieve soil health, including armoring the soil, minimizing soil disturbance, increasing plant diversity, keeping a living root and integrating livestock.

"Jim and I have been working together on conservation projects since Jim and his wife, Audrey, purchased the farm in 1998," Gruetzmacher says. "But it has been in the last five years that Jim's increased efforts to improve the health of the soil that has led to more collaboration."

The "Thursdays at the U" weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. 

Please note: At all UW-Eau Claire campuses, everyone, including presenters, are required to wear a mask indoors.

For more information about the series, contact Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, professor emeritus of psychology, UW Colleges, at