Mike VanWinkle, VanWinkle Dairy, Hosts Pasture Walk, September 20, 2016

Mike Van Winkle began operating Van Winkle Dairy Farm in West Mansfield, Ohio in 2006.  Mike wanted to make his farm more efficient, cleaner and sustainable but as a beginning farmer, he was unsure how to begin implementing his goals.  He sought input from La Rae Baker, Resource Conservationist, Natural Resource Conservation Service.  Together they developed  a conservation plan, a comprehensive nutrient management plan and a prescribed grazing plan.  The primary resource concerns addressed in the plans include excessive nutrients in surface water, sheet and rill soil erosion, and animal waste and contaminants' impact on soil condition.  Participating in NRCS's Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) aided Mike in establishing conservation practices and systems including access roads, heavy use area protection, intensive grazing, no till and cover crops.  In compliance with his comprehensive nutrient management plan, Mike has constructed a compost pen pack waste storage facility to collect and manage manure and a roof and roof runoff management system was installed over the waste storage facility to protect rain water from nutrient contamination.  The dairy cows now have access to fresh pasture every 12 hours.  A livestock watering system, access roads, fencing and forage and biomass planting practices were installed to provide adequate forage for the grazing cows.  Additional enhancements include leaving grain un-harvested to benefit wildlife, converting more cropland to pastured cropland, establishing a pollinator block for beneficial insect habitat and splitting nitrogen application.   Mike has eagerly and aggressively tackled the goals he set for himself and his dairy in 2006.  Mike's dairy operation and the Bokes Creek portion of the Scioto River watershed are the primary benefactors of his efforts.  The benefits are:

  • The waste storage facility is capable of handling the amount of manure produced on the farm. 
  • There is a reduction in contaminated rainwater. 
  • Converted cropland to pasture lowers the intensity of land use.

Mike has been a pleasure to work with and we look forward to continued interaction with him as his farm and dairy evolve.  We extend our thanks to him for being such a gracious host for his pasture walk.