Canadian beef farmers and ranchers: Stewards of the land, for now and for the future
For most of us, Earth Day comes just once a year. We recycle, turn lights out when leaving a room, use cold water to do our laundry all in the name of conservation. But how many of us change the way we work in an effort to reduce our impact on the land?
For Canada’s 65,000 beef farming and ranching families, caring for the land is what they do 365 days a year. They understand that sustaining the land and the waterways in their care is essential to their way of life.
Chris Knight, his family and his brother Carl of Clear Creek Farms of Highgate Ontario are just one example of a beef farming family who not only sustains their land, but seeks to improve it. As acknowledgement of their good works, this farming family is the 2017 recipient of the Ontario Environmental Stewardship Award (TESAward), sponsored by the RBC Royal Bank.
The Knights have demonstrated their commitment to the environment by focusing on water and soil health, managing grasslands, and protecting wildlife habitat.
Much of the Knights environmental management begins with rotational grazing — a continual movement of cattle on their farm allows their pastures to recover. This time-intensive approach allows the plants such as clover, trefoil and alfalfa to reach the flowering stage, which provides a food source for wild bees and other pollinators, and nesting areas for grassland birds. Rotational grazing also increases the soil organic matter, which is important for the sandy soils that lie beneath.
Over the years, Clear Creek Farms has been successful implementing several environmental protection projects through collaboration with organizations such as the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, and Ducks Unlimited. Wetlands are protected by planting trees, creating a fenced buffer strip on creek banks to control erosion and the planting of tall prairie grasses to improve soil health.
“Landowners like the Knights, who are willing to take part in conservation and stewardship projects on their land, are a community asset and create a better environment for us all,” explains Greg Van Every, Environmental Project Coordinator with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.
TESAward recognizes the outstanding environmental stewardship of an Ontario cattle farmer. Special consideration is given to farmers who have taken innovative approaches towards furthering their farm environmental sustainability.