28 Ways Arizona Ranchers Care for the Environment

Earth Day is an everyday thought for Arizona’s beef farmers and ranchers. This lists only includes 28 ways Arizona ranchers care for the environment, but we promise there are many other ways. Caring for the land, their cattle, and you, the consumer, are the most important priorities for Arizona cattlemen and women.

  1. Maintain and introduce habitats as homes for numerous endangered and threatened species including Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, and the Mexican Gray Wolf.
  2. Utilize rotational grazing in which cattle are moved to different pastures every few days to prevent overgrazing. 
  3. Maintain proper nutrients in soil by regularly analyzing soil samples. This also helps to determine if nutritional supplements are needed to help meet cattle’s nutritional needs.
  4. Implement conservation tillage so that soil can be conserved and available moisture used more efficiently.

    11.17.09 150 (002)
    Photo from the Menges Ranch.
  5. Manage streams and sensitive wetlands to create a buffer that helps prevent bank erosion, helps control runoff and improves fish habitat.
  6. Utilize beef production practices and tools to raise more beef with fewer natural resources.
  7. Arizona mines use cattle to slow water runoff on tailings slopes by feeding oat hay and allowing cattle to graze down the slope while depositing organic matter and encouraging trails which help to reduce quick moving water.
  8. Utilize biofuel on cattle operations. The grain by-product of ethanol production, distillers grains, are fed to cattle as a nutritious source of energy.
  9. Fertilize fields with manure from cattle feeding operations to reduce fuel needed to manufacturer synthetic fertilizer.

    Photo from Pinal Feeding.
  10. Protect open spaces through programs like conservation easements, to ensure ranchlands and wildlife habitats are protected from development for perpetuity.
  11. Utilize solar power to harness Arizona’s plentiful sun to power ranches including electric water pumps to provide water for cattle and wildlife.

    Photo from OX Ranch.
  12. Create retention ponds to protect waterways from excessive runoff and to contain rain water for cattle and wildlife to drink.
  13. Provide habitat for ground nesting birds including the Bobwhite and Gambel’s Quail. 
  14. Operate methane digesters, which capture methane from manure decomposition and utilize it to generate electricity for the farm.
  15. Participate in university research projects that aim to improve agricultural environmental practices.
  16. Compost cattle manure into fertilizer products that can be used by golf courses, athletic fields, gardens, etc.

    Photo from OX Ranch.
  17. Practice Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve grasslands, soil, and wildlife habitat.
  18. Plan soil nutrient management systems to control nutrient runoff and to minimize the need for additional nutrients to grow crops.
  19. Monitor and document effective practices and regularly solicit input from University of Arizona Extension Agents to improve resource management. Ranchers also work with the university extension programs to receive a continued education.

    Photo from ZZ Cattle Co.
  20. Control invasive weeds and reduce plant fuel build-up on grazing land so it doesn’t turn into hot and dangerous fires.
  21. Install irrigation systems that efficiently utilize limited water resources.
  22. Facilitate fish passage at irrigation diversions so migrating fish can continue to spawn in creeks.
  23. Install fish screens in ditches so that fish do not get trapped.
  24. Partner with state, local and national environmental agencies to monitor land, water, and wildlife, and make improvements.

    Photo from Garcia Ranches.
  25. Hold up water on ranchlands for extended periods of time in order to replenish underground aquifers and filter out nutrients and particulate matter.
  26. Improve plant density, work to eradicate invasive plant species and encourage native forages, promoting healthier rangelands, allowing cattle to graze and consume forages that convert to healthy, nutritious beef.
  27. Feed cattle crops that are grown locally to reduce fuel needed for transportation.
  28. Use windmills to harvest wind energy into usable mechanical power.

This is a short list compared to what is done on ranches to ensure the land is cared for properly. Work is also done to recognize others in the beef community who have made long-standing contributions to the preservation of the country’s natural resources through the Environmental Stewardship Award.AZ Top 10

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