Cattle farmers raising beef help produce a sustainable food supply for a growing global population

40 Ways Cattle Ranchers and Farmers Help the Environment

A Commitment to Sustainability

The cattle farmer and rancher commitment to the environment goes beyond just lip service. Here are 40 ways raising beef is greener than you think…

America’s cattle farmers and ranchers:

  1. Utilize innovative practices to raise more beef with fewer natural resources.

  2. Partner with state, local and national environmental agencies to monitor land, water and wildlife and make improvements to the environment.

  3. Operate methane digesters, which capture methane from manure and utilize it to generate electricity for the farm.

  4. Allow livestock to graze and consume natural and organic forages that convert to healthy, nutritious beef.

  5. Adopt a “locavore” diet for cattle by using feed grown locally to reduce fuel needed for transportation.

  6. Utilize rotational grazing in which livestock are moved to different pastures every few days to prevent overgrazing. 

  7. Participate in university research projects that aim to improve farmer environmental practices.

  8. Protect open spaces from development through programs like conservation easements.

  9. Compost cattle manure into fertilizer products that can be used by golf courses, athletic fields, gardens, etc.

  10. Utilize biofuel additives in gasoline to power beef production operations.

  11. Recognize those in the industry who have made long-standing contributions to the preservation of the country’s natural resources through the Environmental Stewardship Award.

  12. Recycle materials such as feed bags and plastic containers (mineral tubs), batteries, used motor oil, tires, and scrap metal.

  13. Maintain open space as cattle grazing pastures, allowing land to remain natural, free of trash, debris and invasive weeds and trees.

  14. Fertilize fields with manure from cattle feeding operations to reduce fuel needed to manufacturer synthetic fertilizer.

  15. Maintain and introduce habitats as homes for numerous endangered species.

  16. Hold up water on ranchlands for extended periods of time in order to replenish underground aquifers and filter out nutrients and particulate matter. 

  17. Use biological controls on invasive pests.

  18. Plant trees for windbreaks, which provide protection for livestock, wildlife and soil.

  19. Maintain proper nutrients in soil by regularly analyzing soil samples to determine which nutrients are needed and in what amounts.

  20. Implement conservation tillage so that soil can be conserved and available moisture used more efficiently.

  21. Fence off streams and wetlands to create a buffer that helps prevent bank erosion and control runoff.

  22. Plant grasses on highly erodible land, thereby conserving soil.

  23. Optimize delivery of feed allowing for fewer trips to the farms.

  24. Reduce fuel consumption by using ATVs that use less fuel than other farm/ranch vehicles.

  25. Recycle corn stalk bales into cattle bedding.

  26. Utilize solar-powered electric fence chargers.

  27. Create retention ponds to protect waterways from excessive runoff.

  28. Use recycled products to build fences and recycled tires to build water tanks. 

  29. Provide habitat for ground nesting birds.

  30. Practice contour farming, in which crops are planted along the natural contours of the land. The rows slow water run-off during rainstorms to prevent soil erosion and allow the water time to soak into the soil.

  31. Plan soil nutrient management systems to control nutrient runoff and to minimize the need for additional nutrients to grow crops.

  32. Incorporate distillers grains (a natural by-product of ethanol and alcohol production) into cattle feed to recycle this resource.

  33. Monitor and document effective practices and regularly solicit input from expert sources to improve resource management.

  34. Improve plant density for a healthier rangeland.

  35. Use wind mills to harvest wind energy into usable mechanical power.

  36. Control weeds and prevent residue build-up on pasture land so it doesn’t turn into hot and dangerous fires.

  37. Install irrigation systems that efficiently utilize limited water resources.

  38. Facilitate fish passage at irrigation diversions so migrating fish can continue to spawn in creeks.

  39. Install fish screens in ditches so that fish do not get trapped.

  40. Plant cover crops to increase soil fertility.
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