Manitoba farmers take home TESA environmental award at CBIC

Circle H Farms took home the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) from the Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) in London, Ont. last week.

Located near Brandon, Man., Brian and Sonja Harper were recognized for their work transforming their farm since acquiring the property in 1990.

“What set the Harpers apart in their focus on soil health and soil biology is the use of technologies, innovative management practices and keen observations to gain an intimate understanding of enhancements that most benefit their specific environment. That stood out with the judges,” noted Duane Thompson, chair of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s Environment Committee.

The awarded, which has been around since 1996, is handed out annually to producers who show significant innovation and effort in the area of environmental stewardship .

For the Harper’s farm, they were dealing with depleted soils due to wind and water erosion 18 years ago. With that, they set out on a lifelong journey to improve their farm for their 80 head of cow calf pairs, by switching to rotational grazing and perennial crops.

Over time, the Harpers also installed an off-site watering system which included being powered by solar panels in the winter. They also planted trees and completed an environmental farm plan to help with the longevity of the farm.

rian and Sonja, along with their children, Thomas and Kristelle, adopted a high stock density grazing practise meant to mimic the grazing pattern of large herds of wild ruminants, like buffalo, on the prairies. The practice greatly benefited their beef production, along with the soil health on their land, as they saw production increase by 9,400 lb in just three years of high density grazing — on the same 130 acres with zero additional inputs.

Quite humbled by winning TESA this year, the Harpers were previously recognized as Conservation Farm Family of the Year (2004) and Manitoba Grazer of the Year (2007).

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