Ian is a fifth-generation Alberta rancher whose family originally homesteaded in 1883, west of Calgary in the Jumping Pound District. In 2007, Ian and Carman moved from north of Cochrane to Shoestring Ranch near Acme, AB. The cow calf and crop operation runs 180 pairs and retains calves for a natural beef program.
“I feel my connection to the land, water, air is really strong and getting stronger as I progress throughout my career,” said Ian.
They began shifting the environmental focus of the ranch through pasture management, but once they switched to focus more on the soil, everything came together. The ranch practices minimum tillage when seeding crops to keep residue anchored in the soil and protect the structure to prevent erosion.
“We try to take an environmental focus on all the decisions that we do here at the ranch, and try to include it in all of our management steps,” said Ian. “We have tried to work with nature as much as we can and we’ve changed the management of our ranch dramatically to do so.”
Dugouts are fenced off with several solar power watering systems to provide better quality water for the cattle and support healthy riparian areas. Shelterbelts are maintained to protect from wind erosion and provide wildlife habitat.
“I’d like to continue to improve upon the utilization of our land, our production, our cattle and pastures. I’d like to continue to improve the health of our soil and the cleanliness of our water,” said Ian.
Ian’s involvement in the industry and community leadership further proves his commitment to environmental ranching practices. He served as Chair with both the Foothills Forage and Grazing Association and the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta. He was an early adaptor of the Verified Beef Production program and Environmental Farm Plan.
“I don’t think anybody has ever won this award based on the culmination of your life’s events… It is more of a recognition for being on the path. I don’t think anybody who is on this path ever gets to the end of it. There’s always something more to accomplish, to make something a little bit better,” said Ian.
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