Western Wisconsin Conservation Council farmer panel set for annual meeting

Dairy farmers in western Wisconsin interested in learning more about sustainable farming practices may have interest in attending this year’s Western Wisconsin Conservation Council (WWCC) annual meeting from 12-3 p.m. on Dec. 9.

Topics to be presented at the meeting include lessons from the field, well-testing research and biochar research. WWCC will welcome speakers from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) and some local WWCC members.

Attendees will explore these topics through presentations by:

Jill Coleman Wasik is an associate professor of environmental science at UWRF. Her graduate research focused on mercury and sulfur biogeochemistry in peatlands. Since coming to UWRF in 2013, her research program has expanded to include phosphorus and nitrogen cycling in, and loading to, various surface and groundwater resources, as well as microplastics contamination in aquatic and terrestrial systems.

At the annual WWCC meeting, Coleman Wasik will provide an update on the well testing program now in its fourth year. She will also present information and preliminary data on a new lysimeter study currently in progress.

Patrick Woolcock is in his third year as an assistant professor of engineering at UWRF, focusing on environmental- and energy-related topics. His research is focused on the generation and application of biochar as a soil additive to mitigate expensive fossil inputs and expand economic opportunities for farmers, while simultaneously aiming to improve soil health. His industry experience included six years in North Carolina working on topics such as thermochemical conversion technologies, renewable fuels and environmental remediation.


Natasha Rayne is an associate professor of soil science in the Department of Plant and Earth Science at UWRF. Her area of expertise is soil fertility and nutrient cycling. She teaches various courses including introduction to soil science, soil fertility, and soil microbiology. Her research focuses on nutrient cycling and improvement of soil health using manure. She has supervised more than 15 graduate and undergraduate research projects at UWRF. Her research has also involved collaborative efforts with local industry and farmers.

The multidisciplinary research presented by Rayne and Woolcock is funded by entities such as WWCC and the Wisconsin Dairy Innovation Hub as well as contributions from other professors (Dr. Youngmi Kim and Dr. Shaheer Burney currently). The primary focus is to improve farm profitability and environmental sustainability by developing additional products for income generation (i.e., a saleable compost) while reducing expensive fossil inputs and environmental impacts compared to conventional farming operations.


Who: Western Wisconsin Conservation Council (WWCC)

What: Annual meeting

When: 12-3 p.m. on Dec. 9

Where: Emmert & Sons, 1881 140th Ave., Baldwin, Wis.


  • WWCC year in review: Todd Doornink, WWCC board president
  • 2020 member survey results review and The Nature Conservancy incentive program review: Steve Richter and Ricardo Costa, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin
  • WWCC well-testing research update: Dr. Jill Coleman Wasik, UWRF
  • Biochar research product introduction: Dr. Patrick Woolcock and Dr. Natasha Rayne, UWRF
  • Lessons from the field: WWCC farmer experience panel discussion: WWCC farmer members