Southwest Iowa cattle producers have been selected as the Region 3 winner of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s program that highlights exceptional work done by cattle producers to protect and enhance the environment.
Glenn and Bev Rowe of Lorimor were announced as the Region 3 winner in the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver on July 16. This stewardship journey started in Dallas County and is now operated on farmland in Union and Madison Counties.
Their farm operation includes pasture paddocks, wildlife refuge, and some crop acres. Cattle have always been an integral part of their farm operation and environmental decisions that have improved land use, water quality and wildlife habitat.
The couple began their farming careers in 1969 in rural Dallas County with a small cow herd, while working on the diversified farming operation of Glenn’s parents. They were part of the change on that Dallas County farm that converted it from moldboard plowing and finely tilled soils for planting, to leaving soybean stubble untouched and disc chiseling corn stalks that would leave enough residue on the field to avoid wind erosion.
While those processes were taking place on the cropland, they purchased some pasture ground in Madison County that had conservation measures in place. There was no rotational grazing; weed management in the pasture was done with chemicals; and cows drank from ponds and creeks. The Rowes used a goal-oriented process to make changes; one that allowed economic sustainability as well as environmental sustainability. They installed fencing around ponds, put water tanks in below ponds for watering options, built internal division fences and more secure perimeter fences, installed low-stress working corrals and seeded native grass species for weed and erosion control.
In 1999, they found a new challenge for another type of sustainability; that of mentoring the next generation of cattle farmers. When sons Justin and Tanner indicated they wanted to be part of the farm operation, Bev and Glenn decided they would build a new home and facilities on a 427-acre farm they had purchased in 1997 in Union County. Once revitalized, the location would lend itself well to rotational grazing and rural water access for their cow-calf herd.
The Rowes focused on returning old CRP and lower quality farmland to improved and rotationally grazed pastures. They already knew that doing that part successfully would help them move to sustainable economic goals such as increasing the carrying capacity of the land and increasing forage yields.
They partnered with the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) on no less than seven projects including rotational grazing, rural water pipeline installation, reseeding and fertilizing after soil testing, internal fencing of paddocks, water heavy use fabric at crossings and stream bank stabilizations.
As Iowa’s ESAP representatives and the Region 3 winners, the Rowes will compete for the national ESAP title along with six other regional winners. The national winner will be announced during the Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in San Diego, CA, in January 2016.
The 2015 regional winners are: Valley View Farms, Harrisonburg, Va.; Bull Hammock Ranch, Fort Pierce, Fla.; Glenn and Bev Rowe, Lorimor, Iowa; 6666 Ranch, Gutherie, Texas; American Fork Ranch, Two Dot, Mont.; Maggie Creek Ranch, Elko, Nev.; and Kopriva Angus, Raymond, S.D.
ESAP is celebrating its 25th anniversary during the year ahead. Regional and national award recipients serve as role models among their peers in the farming and ranching community, ensuring that the innovative conservation practices are widely adopted by other land managers.
Cattlemen and women are America’s original stewards of the land and the ESAP award honors their ongoing efforts to protect the environment. The program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, USDA-NRCS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tyson Foods, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation.
Source: Iowa Cattlemen’s Association