By Dee Ann Littlefield | USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
When most people think about innovators, they think about technological advances in the industrial sector. The ranching industry has a group of innovators that are making headlines. This group of people are out in front making changes in their day- to- day operations, introducing new ranching methods and procedures and creating new ways to do business.
One such example is Blooming Grove, Texas ranchers Gary and Sue Price. These stewardship-award winning ranchers are making history for the way they are guiding ranch management into the future.
What are they doing that is turning the heads of conservation professionals across the country? They raise highly sought after beef, and their lush pastures are postcard worthy, but they have still another focus at the center of their operation.
“It all boils down to water,” Gary says. “How we manage the rainwater we receive is the key to everything we do. We can’t just pray for rain and everything will be fine; we have to be ready to receive the rain we do get. If we plan right, that rain will grow grass, water livestock and we won’t lose any of it before it has served its purpose on this ranch. Our water ends up being drinking water downstream in Livingston or in Richland Chambers Lake to be piped back to Fort Worth.”
The Prices have enrolled portions of their land into conservation programs offered through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Sand County Foundation’s “Water as a Crop” program, Tarrant Regional Water District’s conservation incentive program, as well as a stewardship program through Miller Coors.
The financial assistance they receive helps offset the cost of implementing conservation and management practices to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff on the Price’s land, which in turn improves water quality leaving their land. They have utilized conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and cross fencing to achieve these goals.
“This is really a revolutionary idea,” Gary says. “But it makes sense. We aren’t just providing beef for America – we are providing other things like clean air and clean water, and people are willing to pay for that.
“Any source of income like that takes pressure off of cattle as being the only source of income on the ranch,” he says. “If you take the pressure off, it can all work together better.”
The Prices are just one of several agriculture industry innovators that will be featured at the upcoming 6th National Conference on Grazing Lands Dec. 13-16, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency DFW near Grapevine, Texas. Hosted by the National Grazing Lands Coalition, the conference brings together people who are passionate about innovation and the exchange of ideas, as well as information on grazing land environmental and economic practices and issues.
“The relationships we build and the people we connect ourselves with and learn from are the true sources of innovation,” says Bob Drake, National Grazing Lands Coalition chairman emeritus. “This conference will feature experts in fields such as range science, range and pasture management, forage management and animal behavior. They have the building blocks for helping land managers create purposeful change for sustainably managing the 530 million acres of grazing lands in this nation.”
This informative conference is open to the public. Early bird registration of $295 is available through Oct. 15, 2015, followed by regular online registration of $365 until Dec. 4, 2015. On-site registration is also available at $365. Visit www.grazinglands.org for more information.