Just a few days ago, NCBA announced six regional winners of the annual Environmental Stewardship Awards Program (ESAP).These beef operations have shown success in a combination of stewardship and economics. Beef Producer will feature one of these operations each day for the coming week, recognizing their excellence.
The Region III winner is Stoney Creek Farm, Redwood Falls, Minnesota, Grant and Dawn Breitkreutz.
The couple took over the farm from Grant’s father in 1996. Today their 138 cows graze 465 acres, including 140 acres owned by the state. The state land they manage is in a cooperative farming agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and grazing is managed to accomplish environmental goals
Grazing land includes 70 acres converted from cropland. The family also farms 250 acres of no-till corn, soybeans and wheat, plus 50 acres of alfalfa.
The family has restored remnant oak savannah and native prairie by controlling cedar and buckthorn. Through intensive rotational grazing, the family has more than tripled carrying capacity per land unit.
Grass species in native pastures have increased from three species to 26 through rotational grazing. The addition of 14 watering points aids rotational grazing and draws cattle away from streams.
On cropland, no-till, mulch-till and cover crops reduce erosion. Cover crops increase soil organic matter, extend the grazing season and provide habitat for wildlife, birds, butterflies and pollinators.
Grazing best management practices (BMPs) protect a wetland and suppress invasive species.
The Breitkreutzes were nominated by Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association.
The Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) was started by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in 1991. It recognizes cattle producers whose efforts benefit both the environment and the bottom line, reflecting true sustainability – ecological and economic.
It is administered by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and funded by Dow AgroSciences, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Any individual or group may nominate a cattle producer for the award. Winners are selected by a committee of from both within and outside the cattle industry. The selection committee chooses a regional winner from each of seven regions, then a national winner is named at NCBA’s annual convention each winter.
Nominations are due in March.