A.J. Bussan, a potato and vegetable specialist with University of Wisconsin Extension, says central Wisconsin farmers are doing a better job at growing profitable crops while at the same time making less of a demand on local water supplies.
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports this week that high-capacity wells are why some lakes in the Central Sands region have gone down anywhere from two to four feet. A lot of that water is used to irrigate crops.
Bussan says farmers are planting less thirsty crops than the traditional field corn and Russet-Burbank potatoes that used to dominate the region.
“There's more snap bean acres that are being planted under irrigation, and there's more sweet corn that's being grown under irrigation,” says Bussan. “Snap beans typically used about one-third to one-half of the water that potato crops use, and sweet corn usually uses about half.”
Bussan says the extension has been working closely with Central Sands farmers on water conservation for the last four or five years.