Mike Ballweg has been the Sheboygan County Crops and Soils Agriculture Agent since 1987. The majority of Mike’s work falls into the areas of Agronomy to include grain and forage crops, cover crops, soil conservation and support for commercial horticulture.
In 2012 Mike worked with the ANRE program area and DATCP secretary Ben Brancel to utilize the Farmer to Farmer website. This renewed commitment to the website was the result of the extreme drought in areas of Southern Wisconsin. Mike recognized the shortage of forage for local farmers as a result of the drought and as a result nearly 200 listing representing 30,000 tons of hay and 4,000 tons of straw were made in 2012, of which 10,000 were sold. The Farmer to Farmer website has gained interest from other states as well as recognition from Governor Scott Walker who said, “Without this network, this drought could have negatively impacted Wisconsin’s agricultural production for years to come.”
In 2009 Mike responded to difficult harvest challenges, and led a statewide webinar effort titled “Harvest, Storage, and Feed Management Considerations.” Specialists from multiple disciplines were coordinated to address the challenges faced in the field, how to store this crop, mold, and mycotoxin issues and how to approach feeding potentially mycotoxin infected grains to livestock. 244 participants from 61 locations participated in the webinar with an additional 450 views of the webinar via YouTube.
Mike has also conducted significant on-farm research projects, particularly in the area of cover crops. Mike work to establish on-farm strip plots in Sheboygan and Washington Counties. A three year project evaluation Tillage Radish was developed, and new research plots to study clovers and oats were established in 2013. Mike has used these plots for Cover Crop Tours for cooperating farmers and Land Conservation department staff. Mike works with 15-20 producers and professional agronomists annually as part of the Cover Crop Users Group.
Each year Mike provides programming to about 125 individual commercial horticulturalists through the Landscape and Grounds Maintenance Short Course. In addition to his valuable Master Gardener volunteer work, Mike also took on a leadership role with Sheboygan County to address the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. Ash trees account for about 25% of municipal trees in the area. Two grants were secured to fund the effort. Tree inventory maps were generated for participating cities, towns, and villages. Mike’s work with this group led to the Sheboygan County Emerald Ash Borer Management guide, which has been adopted by resolution by the county board to guide EAB management and decisions in the county.
To learn more about Mike’s UW-Extension Scholarly work please click here.