Sustainability Protects Waterways

In Luxemburg, Wisconsin, Paul Cornette is not only investing in innovation in the barn, but in soil health as well. Cornette operates Cornette Dairy with his brother. He’s one of the founders of Peninsula Pride Farms, a farmer-led watershed protection group in northeast Wisconsin.

“Depending on how far back up the family tree you go, we’re 4th and 5th generation dairy farmers here,” says Cornette. “Today we’re milking 360 cows using robots and we farm about 1000 acres.”

Cornette utilizes technology such as drones, an auto steer tractor, and GPS guidance to help maintain his fields. In the barn he uses robotic milkers, feed pushers, and alley scrapers. These have helped him with labor issues and allowed him to focus more on sustainability practices.

In 2016, Cornette helped found Peninsula Pride Farms. They work to help farmers do a better job of talking about what they do to protect the environment, how they take care of their cows, and what stewardship means to them.

He adds, “We’re all part of the community, just like everyone else is. We care about those natural resources that we all share. We want to pass those onto the next generation of our family.”

Cornette helps to protect his area’s water, soil and land by utilizing cover crops and no till planting. This has helped him and other farmers in the Peninsula Pride group to measure their overall environmental impact.

Recent studies have been conducted that measured different angles of sustainability and environmental impacts farms have. Cornette says they wanted to look at what five or six years of progress looked like.

“Some of the highlights were that about 75 percent of the fields in the study were using at least one practice to mitigate nitrate loss to groundwater,” explains Cornette. “Our fields were 27 percent below a national benchmark. We’re trying to stack successes and make continuous improvement, which has always been our goal.”

In 2022, the Peninsula Pride water-shed group prevented 100,000 pounds of phosphorus from entering local waterways. This is just one of the ways they’re working to be sustainable and ensure the land can be passed down to future generations.