Imperial Stock Ranch has a long-standing tradition of working in balance with nature. Carefully managed livestock rotations and low impact farming practices, combine to lead to an ever-improving landscape.
Our grazing animals vitalize plants, harvest sunlight, and help keep healthy stands of grasses growing on the high desert landscape. The development of off stream watering points with small catch basins and spring developments, support the ranch’s 50 miles of creeks in benefitting the ever-improving fish and wildlife populations. Low input farming practices are exclusively used, from which soil is actually created, not lost. Our belief is that a healthy landscape leads to a healthy ranch economy which in turn directly contributes to the vitality of our local and regional community.
Sustainable agriculture is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible. It requires thoughtful management. The recent story begins in the late 1980s, when Dan Carver began working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a conservation plan for the ranch. It was a road map for environmental management. If we followed it, it would not only ensure healthier land, but that would lead to a healthier bottom line. It has a lot to do with “mindset” as Dan calls it. Thinking differently. You begin by describing what you’d like to see; develop a plan to take you there; establish measureable criteria to monitor the progress; and then manage (implement) according to your plan. Various agencies have played key roles in charting the progress we’ve made. Sustainability is not necessarily something you achieve, rather it is a process that is constant and ongoing. Everyone left in ranching today has achieved some level of sustainability, but we must always work to do even better.
DAN LIKES TO SHARE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES WITH VISITORS OF WHAT “SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES” MEAN TO OUR OPERATION:
1) Following our road map for management, we’ve more than doubled meat production and at the same time, the rangeland grasses are healthier than ever and salmon are returning in record numbers. The rotational grazing methods, strategic placement of mineral supplements and off-stream water developments, all part of the plan, have had a major impact on those results.
2) We have lowered a number of inputs in crop production by changing to “no-till” farming practices. This method means we no longer plow the land. Since 1996, utilizing a special machine, the seed is inserted into the soil each year amidst the standing stubble or residue from the previous year’s crop. When the crop is mature, it is harvested. We save numerous trips over the fields made with traditional tillage methods of farming. Reductions in fuel costs, fertilizers and herbicides, labor and equipment costs have all contributed to increased profits in the farming. At the same time, there are numerous benefits to the environment. A few of those are reduced fossil fuel consumption, reduced erosion by not exposing bare soil to wind and water…with the direct benefit of improved stream water quality, and enriching and building soil rather than losing it. In addition, crop harvests have doubled.