Matt and I have a unique relationship. In addition to being soul mates and the parents of our three girls, we also partner together to manage our farm.
We live together, we love together, we work together.
After almost 20 years of this, I can look back with tremendous pride over the gift of togetherness on which we have built our lives.
Our farm is diversified – we grow both crops and cattle – with my favorite farmer manning the helm of the crop farm and me working as the boss lady at the feed yard. We run the two facets of the farm independently, but collaborate and partner on a daily basis. I need Matt to provide feed for my cattle, and he needs me for manure to replenish the nutrients in his soil.
It isn’t often that a woman can claim that one of the reasons that her husband needs her is her manure…
But manure provides common ground when you are managing a diversified farm. I need to manage it responsibly so that it is harvested and used in a positive way, and Matt needs it in order to maintain sustainable soil health.
Because I manage a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), I have a more highly populated density of animals than other types of farms. While I view my feed yard as a positive way to raise beef, I recognize that I need to be dedicated to environmental protection in order to safeguard the land and water on our farm. I use a Nutrient Management Plan, created by a professional environmental engineering firm, which includes best management practices for collecting and properly using both the solid and liquid manure that is produced at the feed yard.
My favorite farmer tests his crop fields prior to manure application to determine the level of nutrients needed to replenish the soil. I test the manure so that the nutrient levels in the natural fertilizer can be entered into an equation (along with the soil test information) to ensure that the manure is applied at an agronomic (healthy) rate. The goal is overall sustainability for the farm with the crops and cattle working together as a team to produce needed resources in a balanced cycle.
The crop yields and cattle performance/beef quality give us reliable report cards on our management execution, and extra safeguards such as ground water monitoring and crop land set-backs ensure that the nutrients applied remain on our farm being used for their positive and intended purpose.
All of these things together reduce the environmental footprint of our farm, which is an ongoing goal that Matt and I share.