Koepke begins duties as Shawano County agronomist

Focus will include expanding cover crop, no-till practices
By: 
Kevin Passon
Editor-in-chief

Bill Koepke may be new to his job with Shawano County, but he certainly isn’t new to the area.

The new agronomist, who started his duties Jan. 15, grew up just north of Marion, where his parents farmed.

“For the last two weeks, just trying to get the lay of the land,” he told the Shawano County Land Conservation Committee on Feb. 1. “Going through a lot of new employee training, stuff like that.”

An agronomist provides agronomic knowledge and leadership to growers while performing job duties such as field scouting, soil management and market analysis.

Koepke attended University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and earned a land management degree. He spent the past seven years as a welder at Marion Body Works.

“This job came up, and I thought it would be a good fit,” he said.

“My main job here will are working with — we have a cost sharing grant through Edge Dairy (Farmer) Cooperative and Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance to try and implement cover crop and no-till rotation on 2,000 acres in Shawano County over the next three to five years.”

Planting cover crops and utilizing no-till practices help sequester carbon, reduce erosion and improve soil health and water quality.

In August 2023, Fox-Wolf announced the launch of two Climate Smart Agriculture projects designed to foster sustainable agriculture farming practices. These projects total more than $12.8 million in funding by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“It’s a big job, so we’re going to just try and inform people,” Koepke said. “We have some cost share money to help out with equipment costs and seed costs and things like that to try and get more acres in cover crop to prevent erosion.”

Koepke said he is also taking time to re-familiarize himself with other programs in which the county is involved.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the game,” he said. “Going over some of the nutrient management plans we have access to from the last two years to try and identify some of the producers that I think will be a good fit for this program who are either already doing the practices and not getting paid, not getting cost share money for it, of they’re only doing one of the two, or their farms are located in an area we think would be a good fit to try and implement these things.”

kpasson@newmedia-wi.com