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Montana Ag Network: Ranchers work to improve soil health

Posted: 9:46 AM, Jul 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-25 11:55:04-04

BIG TIMBER – Roger and Betsy Indreland believe grazing animals can have a positive influence on soil health and the regeneration of organic matter in the soil, which increases water holding capacity.

The couple ranches just north of Big Timber.

“Mother Nature has a system,” said Roger. “If we work with Mother Nature, we can do things a lot more economically.”

With a focus on improving soil health, the couple has transformed how they ranch.

“If we improve the grasses, it improves the feed for the cattle, which then improves their nutrient density of the meat which also affects our health,” said Betsy. “We can do a lot to improve that to make our food more nutritious and make us healthier as well.”

By planting different species of plants that improve soil health, it increases their cattle graze year-round. At the same time, it also decreases the costs of running their family business. Indreland Angus uses electric fence to divide their pastures. This way, they can maximize how much their cattle graze and limit the impact that the animals have on the landscape.

“The primary thing we’ve been able to do to improve the ranch is our grazing,” said Roger Indreland. “That’s moving the cattle real often from pasture to pasture.”

By using rotational grazing, it benefits the soil and leaves additional feed for the cattle during winter.

“We stockpile our feed so we can try to minimize our winter costs,” Roger added. “When you can get your winter feed cost down to a thousand pounds of hay along with a little high protein alfalfa hay as a protein supplement it’s a pretty cheap winter compared to two or three tons of hay that we use to feed. We have made this work the last two years which were very severe winters.”

Through all their regenerative practices, Roger and Betsy hope to one day pass their business on to their daughters.

“You put your heart and soul into things, and you want that to continue,” Roger added with an emotional smile. “It’s kind of a pride thing. That may be selfish. But by the same token, I think everybody would love to be able to pass that on.”

Each December, Indreland Angus holds a production bull sale to market their Angus bulls to ranchers who recognize that soil health improves cattle genetics.

For more on the Indreland Angus Ranch and their grazing philosophy, visit indrelandranch.com.

-Reported by Lane Nordlund/MTN News