Organic Field Day

Diversified Organic Grain Rotations

Friday, July 21, 2017 


Bickford Organics
Ridgeway, Wis.


Farmers Paul Bickford and John Wepking explained their organic systems, which protect not only local watersheds, but also Gulf Coast fisheries at the other end of the country. The also talked about designing a crop rotation, large-scale small grain production, processing, marketing your whole rotation, on-farm storage, growing organic seed corn, and mentorship models and farm transfer.

This field day was co-sponsored by Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and Iowa County Farmer Led Watershed Initiative.



• Large-scale, food-grade small grain production, processing, and marketing
• On-farm grain storage
• Farming for water quality
• Planning a diverse crop rotation
• Growing organic seed corn
• Small grain variety recommendations


John Wepking explains organic spring wheat production



Paul Bickford was one of the first farmers in Wisconsin to convert to rotational grazing in 1992 after years of conventional dairying. As a second-generation farmer, this kind of innovation came easy to Paul. So after decades as a dairyman, he was ready for another challenge. In 2011, Bickford sold his herd and decided to transition all of his 900 acres to organic grain production. Three years ago his new venture got a healthy shot of enthusiasm and skill with the addition of John Wepking and his wife Halee, both trained chefs and hopeful farmers. By incorporating milling-quality small grains into their forage, feed, and seed rotations, Bickford and Wepking have been able to access new markets and add diversity, ecologically and financially, to their operation.

  • John Wepking, Meadowlark Farm

John Wepking has been farming with Bickford Organics, a 900-acre organic farm in Ridgeway, Wis., since 2015. He and his wife grow malting barley, hard red winter and spring wheats, open-pollinated flint corn and spelt, along with traditional feed crops, and raise organic grass-fed beef.

  • Lynn Clarkson, president, Clarkson Grain
  • Jeffrey Block, GroAlliance
  • Julie Dawson and Lucia Gutierrez, UW-Madison plant breeders
  • Harriet Behar, MOSES Senior Organic Specialist


Halee and John Wepking









See other MOSES Field Days


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