Good stewards of the land enhance and preserve their environments by promoting wildlife habitats, protecting their water sources, and conserving land and energy. The 13th annual National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Environmental Stewardship Award Program honors seven cattle operations striving to care for their environment.
A committee, made up of experts from universities, state and federal agencies and environmental organizations, selects winners from each of NCBA's seven regions. Dow AgroSciences sponsors the award.
An overall winner will be announced at the 2004 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in Phoenix, AZ, Jan. 27-31.
Established in the late 1700s, parts of Llangollen Farms, Middleburg, VA, have been in production for more than 200 years. The farm is located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 40 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. It was purchased 14 years ago at an estate auction by Roy Ash, who saved the farmground from housing developers bidding against him.
The farm's primary business is a cow-calf operation — both commercial and purebred Angus. Backgrounding/stocker and replacement heifer enterprises complement the main cow herd.
Farm manager John Wilkins created a conservation program to protect the land and water systems. He developed programs for manure management and stream and wetland protection, and created habitats for wildlife. He also preserves the soil through no-till planting practices and forage management.
Wilkins often speaks at local farming workshops and planter's groups. But, he says, neighborhood interaction, or “talking with other producers over the fence,” has the greatest impact on farming in his area.
Carlton 2×4 Ranch
Water management is the main focus for Barbara Carlton, owner, and Patrick Carlton, managing partner of Carlton 2×4 Ranch, Arcadia, FL. In sub-tropical climate, proper irrigation amounts and times are critical to the ecosystem.
The ranch is surrounded by Hardwood Creek swamps, cypress and pine stands, pasture and citrus groves where wildlife and natural habitats are maintained. All land is managed using Best Management Practices (BPM) and Integrated Resource Management (IRM).
The Carlton 2×4 Ranch runs a 1,000-head, commercial cow-calf herd and a small steer backgrounding lot. The ranch's 28,000 acres also contains 500 acres of timber and 875 acres of citrus for fresh fruit sales and juice-making.
The Carlton family has developed relationships with several agencies including National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Florida Cattlemen's Association, Society for Range Management, Stewardship America and Nature Conservatory.
M&M Cattle Co.
Relying on a strong rotational grazing program for their 900-head, cow-calf operation, Matt and Denice Matthews of M&M Cattle Co., have worked to improve the productivity and profitability of their farm.
The farm includes 1,700 owned and 2,500 rented acres. The rotational grazing program has supplied the cattle with increased forages while providing refuge to wildlife. Implementing the program required digging two wells, and adding more water lines and fencing.
Additional fencing keeps cattle away from ponds, timber, springs and creeks.
The Matthews, along with their five children; Niki, Crystal, Victoria, Stephanie and Chad, also background their cattle before sending them to feedyards in Kansas, where they continue to retain ownership.
Additional income comes from timber, hunting leases, feed production, and grass pasture and hay for cattle production.
Canyon View Farms
Central Oklahoma has a history of soil erosion problems. For 50 years, Frank and Shirley Austin of Canyon View Farms, Geary, OK, have worked to convert their land from farmland to grassland to maintain the soil.
The Austins own and rent 1,680 acres used to produce grass, hay and wheat. A rotational grazing system maintains their herd of 170 mother cows. No-till planting methods and controlling water runoff from their pasture with pipes and ponds helps prevent erosion.
The Austins set aside 200 acres for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). These are planted with native grasses and forbes and are home to several wildlife species.
The Austins say they believe in educating themselves and others on new methods of cattle management and taking care of the land.
Frasier Farms Ranch
Frasier Farms is located on two properties in Woodrow and Limon, CO, totaling 44,000 acres, and is managed through a partnership by Marshall Frasier, and his sons Joe, Mark and Chris. The 800-head cow herd is split into spring and fall calving groups.
The ranch is run as an intense grazing operation utilizing 190 paddocks. The native grasses — blue gramma and buffalo grass — are maintained through recycled nutrients and organic matter from the cattle into the soil.
Beneficial insects such as dung beetles and ants thrive in the intense grazing system.
Additional environmental improvements include planting 4,000 trees for shelter and wildlife habitats; and building 50 dams, 65 water points and 55 miles of water pipeline to help control erosion.
Work Family Ranch
San Miguel, CA
Unique activities on Work Family Ranch, San Miguel, CA, include guided hunts, a Farmstay program, public trail rides and girls' horse camp. Elaine and George Work, also run 200 head of mother cows and 200 stockers on their family-owned ranch.
The ranch consists of 12,000 owned acres, with 9,000 acres for grazing on native and non-native perennial grasses, 1,000 acres for dryland farming, 1,000 acres enrolled in CRP and 1,000 acres rotated between pasture and crops. The cattle are managed on a year-round grazing system with no supplementation.
The Works are involved with several conservation agencies, which help fund ranch improvement projects such as installing ground level troughs that provide livestock and wildlife with water.
Other conservation projects include windmills to help distribute water, ongoing wildlife preservation and no-till planting. The Works manage their brush by pushing a herd of cattle over a field of out-of-control brush. The inventive method is called the “Brush Crush.”
Barenthsen Red Angus Ranch
Powers Lake, ND
Maximizing the capabilities of their land is a continuing goal for Mark and Kathy Barenthsen of Barenthsen Red Angus Ranch, Powers Lake, ND.
The ranch totals 5,480 acres of owned and leased grass and cropland. The Barenthsens run 200 head of Red Angus cattle on 2,300 acres in a rotational grazing system. They also farm approximately 2,500 acres of small grains, including durum, barley, oats, flax and peas.
In 2000, the Barenthsens began working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop grass and wetland easements. They replaced old fences with 18,290 ft. of fence, combining two separate pastures into four, 160-to-200-acre cells. More than 30,000 ft. of shelterbelts were also created to provide erosion protection.