Gov. Evers visits Kewaunee County farm; learns how farmers are improving water quality

Published: May. 28, 2019 at 9:17 PM CDT
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Governor Tony Evers visited Kewaunee County on Tuesday and learned how farmers are reducing the amount of contaminants from getting into the ground water.

Deer Run Dairy uses a machine, called a methane digester, which turns manure into energy.

“The digester is basically a huge tank that the manure is in for a period of 21 days,” Duane Ducat, co-owner of Deer Run Dairy, explained. “This digester that we have is capable of 600 kilowatts. That's the equivalent to powering 600 homes. It also reduces the pathogen level of the manure by 1,000 times."

Meaning his 1,500 cow dairy farm is producing pathogens equivalent to a one-and-a-half cow farm.

The digester also reduces the manure odors and has allowed them to use their barn’s own separated manure solids for bedding.

Gov. Evers has made cleaner water an administrative priority and he along with others from Peninsula Pride Farms -- a farmer-led non-profit organization in Kewaunee and southern Door counties -- got a tour of the digester and saw how this type of technology is helping to keep water clean.

“As an organization we can now look at digesters and compost systems available to any size farm as another technique that we can use to reduce the pathogens that might get into our neighbors' wells,” said Don Niles, president of Peninsula Pride Farms.

State Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) invited the governor up to Kewaunee County to see firsthand what farmers are doing to protect wells and the water shed, showing that access to clean water goes beyond party lines.

“Madison is extremely partisan, but I just view this as too important to let that interfere,” said Rep. Kitchens, a Republican. “I think the public needs to realize we can work together on something this important.”

“Seeing both the governor and Representative Kitchens here together was great for us. It indicates there's some bipartisan support in Madison for the things farmers are trying to do,” said Niles.