While I believe with all my heart that our farm’s ability to sustain is intrinsically tied to its capacity to endure, I also recognize that good planning and an attention to detail is critical to our success.
Sustaining is not just something that happens if you get lucky—it is the result of careful planning and diligent implementation. It is the art of taking what Mother Nature gives to you and turning it into a usable and beneficial resource.
Recent Sustainability research conducted by the Beef Check Off demonstrates that there are three components of sustainable beef production (raising cattle to grow beef): environmental responsibility, economic viability, and social diligence.
Because I care, I have the responsibility to minimize the environmental footprint of my farm.
While every decision that Matt and I make on the farm affects its environmental footprint, the following list denotes the key concepts of how we practically care for the farm’s environmental sustainability.
- A detailed manure management plan that includes both soil and manure sampling, and makes use of a computer program to help figure the healthy balance of nutrients on crop ground. The plan also ensures the proper handling of the manure as it is transported from the feed yard to a neighboring crop field.
- A lined holding pond allows us to use the water that drains off of the feed yard during a rain storm for both irrigation and fertilization on our crop ground. The heavy plastic liner of the pond prevents the leaching of nutrients while the water is being stored. This helps us to both recycle the liquid for later use, and to protect the ground water (Ogallala Aquifer) that is under our farm.
- A careful rotation plan for our crop acres reduces erosion and helps to build and sustain soil health.
- A careful pen cleaning schedule allows for timely and effective solid manure collection. This helps to ensure good cattle pen conditions, and the effective use of the natural fertilizer that our animals produce.
- The procurement of genetically high quality cattle which destines them to produce tender and flavorful beef while using fewer natural resources (feed) to make that beef.
- The dedication to high quality holistic care practices which reduces stress and improves the comfort of our cattle. Comfortable cattle make healthy and flavorful beef using fewer natural resources!
- The use of technology to increase the efficiency of our animals. For instance, I use both growth hormone implants and a beta agonist feed supplement at the end of the feeding period to help my animals maintain efficient feed conversion until the time of harvest.
- The use of crop farming technology to increase the efficiency of our crop ground. For instance, Matt’s tractors are equipped with GPS systems to ensure that seed is placed accurately into the ground at planting. He also uses soil probes and other mechanisms to ensure that he is using irrigation water efficiently.
Matt and I have many “tools in our environmental sustainability tool box”. We believe that it is our obligation to both our farm and to you to use them responsibly and with diligence. Our farm has sustained for more than 60 years.
It is our goal that our grandchildren will one day care for it with the same reverence that we do today.