We call it Regenerative Ranching.
Our goal is to rebuild the soil and restore the ranch to its best days, when buffalo roamed across the grasses. The soil held the moisture within, erosion was at a minimum, and grasses grew plentifully. There are five principles of healthy soil that we aim to address in our methods and practices.
Keeping The Soil Covered
Soil armor and litter are two names for the residue of surface plant materials. Litter is important for reducing water and wind erosion, decreasing water evaporation, moderating soil temperatures, reducing the impact of energy from raindrops, suppressing weed growth, and providing a habitat for surface dwellers, which are an important part of the soil food chain. We do not “plow under" the last year’s crops: We keep the soil covered, allowing the litter to slowly returns its nutrients to rebuild the soil.
(above) No Till Drill
Minimizing Soil Disturbance
We minimize soil disturbance: biological, chemical, and physical. Biological disturbance—overgrazing—reduces soil armor and below-ground biomass. Physical and chemical disturbance occurs from tillage, which buries crop residues instead of allowing them to break down naturally. Tillage disturbs the important microbes that feed the soil. We use a no-till drill to plant seed. Cultivating digs up the earth’s nutrients and disturbs the important mycorrhizal fungi that support soil health. No-till practices preserve the earth’s nutrients by creating minimal soil disturbance.
(above) Mob Grazing
Allowing Animal Impact
Livestock play an important part in balancing soil carbon and nitrogen ratios. Animal impact converts high carbon forages to low carbon organic material, reducing nutrient transport from the soil and promoting pasture and rangeland management in combination with cover crop grazing. We use rotational grazing to prompt the cattle to lightly graze our cover crops, then move on to new acreage, creating maximum land benefits, forage regrowth and happy, fat cattle.
Picture bison grazing freely on the grass-covered plains of the American past
They moved gently through the prairie as the grasses ahead enticed them. Their tendency to graze lightly over the land, leave their impact, then move on, preserved the land’s ability to regrow and renew. With today’s regenerative ranching techniques, we can recreate that optimal impact with rotational grazing. Along with others engaged in regenerative ranching practices, we are changing the face of the earth.
Maintaining Crop Diversity
Before modern farming, plant diversity was wide on the natural prairie lands. Planting a variety of seeds, including those that create deep root systems, like radishes, allows us to use sunlight and water to sequester carbon and other nutrients.
Keeping living roots in the soil
at all times
A continual living plant root provides carbon exudates that feed the soil food web, which is in turn exchanged for nutrients for plant growth. This process is also important for soil aggregate formation, which increases soil pores for improved water and air exchange. You will not see plowed-up barren fields, at the ranch ….ever. By summer and winter planting, we keep a living root in the ground at all times.