Grass Ridge Farm, situated in the state’s scenic geographic center near Pittsville, Wisconsin is home to Matt Lippert and his two sons Paul and Carl. Matt’s grandparents, Charles and Augusta Lippert, founded the farm in 1918 with only 100 cows and 80 acres. After more than 100 years of work on the family farm, the Lipperts have grown their operation, with 600 registered Holstein and Jersey milk cows and farming about 1,500 acres.
Their herd thrives with sand-bedded, free-stall barns and milkings three times per day in the double-12 parallel milking parlor. Matt manages the herd’s finances as well as overseeing nutrition. The youngstock’s diet is supplemented by cranberries, a fitting addition for an area agriculturally rich in cranberry bogs.
The Lipperts farm has a heavy focus on land stewardship. “They don’t make more land or soil, so we need to preserve what we have,” said Paul.
“What’s best for the cows and the land is also what’s best for our well-being as dairy farmers.”
“The most crucial practice to maintaining healthy, safe and nutritious dairy production is to treat everything under our care with as much concern as possible and an eye towards sustainability.”
An increased emphasis on soil health and an eye on larger rainfall events has led the farm to use no-till, low-till and cover cropping techniques. Although transitioning towards these farming practices was a “huge mind shift” for Paul, it’s been a rewarding change. “The constant cover prevents erosion and is truly regenerative. We use less fuel and take fewer trips across the field, thus preserving the soil,” said Paul. “In the USA, we have the most amazing land base; and we need to use it in the best way possible.”
Paul is present on the farm 24/7, managing the dairy herd and farm agronomy with 15 full and part-time employees that help with milking duties. He enjoys the variety of day-to-day work.
“One hour I’m making a fence and working in the field, the next I might be doing computer work or in the barn or working with our great employees,” said Paul. “There’s a huge variety to what I do every day — who wouldn’t want that?”
As a graduate of the UW-River Falls Dairy Science program and the Farm and Industry Short Course at UW-Madison, Paul is a well-rounded asset to Grass Ridge Farm. Carl has degrees in agricultural and computer science. Although he doesn’t always work on the farm day-to-day, he adds to the farm operations through his web3 or decentralized information work. “With Carl in the world of start-ups and technology, he connects people who need to talk to a real dairy farmer or have new innovative ideas for agriculture to me,” said Paul. This usually involves troubleshooting and networking, both of which Paul enjoys.
In addition to overseeing finances and dairy nutrition on the farm, Matt works full-time as the University of Wisconsin-Extension Agriculture Agent for Wood County. He’s involved in the dairy industry with groups that have recently given him the opportunity to travel to places like South America and Ireland to learn about different dairy farming practices. Paul also stays active in the dairy community, serving on the board of directors for the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin® as chair for the Purple Ribbon Classic sale committee put on by the Wood Area Holstein Breeders. Paul is honored to be able to network with other dairies about vital issues. “We connect about being more sustainable, environmentally friendly, more productive farmers,” said Paul. “Through these connections, we are more engaged with our communities, with other dairy farmers and with the folks who manage vital infrastructure, such as roads.”
The Lipperts are proud of how the co-op managed their milk supply through the COVID-19 pandemic. Matt’s participation in the co-op has equipped him with abundant industry knowledge. “There are a lot of changes in the industry and I’m optimistic that this can be a very good business for a family to be involved in in 2023,” said Matt.
Kaitlyn Heusel, Field Representative at Foremost Farms has been helpful in addressing the farm’s needs. Others on the farm team include the veterinarian, agronomist, nutritionist, bankers, financial advisors, employees and custom operators. “We also can’t forget the importance of our milk hauler, Scot Grossman,” Matt said. “He’s crucial.”