Kansas Conservation Series: Tiffany Cattle Co.
Herrington, KS – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. is continuing his conservation series highlighting Kansans’ voluntary efforts to take better care of the environment. Stories will be released throughout the 2023 Farm Bill legislative process.
“While we hold hearings for the 2023 Farm Bill, I want to highlight how hard Kansans work every day to protect our environment and conserve precious resources that our Ag economy needs to thrive. Kansas farmers, ranchers, growers, and producers are finding unique and practical ways to preserve our land and protect our water and air. Their efforts are worthy of everyone’s praise,” said Senator Marshall.
When most Americans hear about cattle feedlots, soil health is not the first thing to come to mind. Shawn and Shane Tiffany are working to change that, through cover crop grazing and manure application to their cash crop fields.
In addition to feeding over 40,000 cattle annually in their feedlots and pastures, the Tiffanys are nationally renowned for their application of cover crops in fields which would have otherwise laid fallow following harvest of traditional crops like corn, wheat, or milo. These cover crops, such as rye, triticale, turnips, or radishes, can prevent soil erosion and help with moisture infiltration. Cattle then graze the cover, recycling the plants above ground to naturally fertilize the roots and soil via their manure.
Recently, Kansas has been encountering a historic drought. Instead of grazing under extreme drought conditions, Shawn goes out into his cover crop fields which are planted to grasses, and chops them as silage for cattle in the lots. This ensures that groundcover remains while still feeding cattle under extenuating weather conditions.
As technology continues to advance, Shawn and Shane are right alongside it. Due to USDA requirements to test soil to ensure that livestock waste is not negatively affecting groundwater, samples are pulled in the fall. In addition to the required sampling, Shane and Shawn return to test soil health in the spring before planting, making scientific observations of what microorganisms already exist in the soil. Since manure from the feedlot is already applied to crop fields as natural fertilizer, testing the soil in the spring also allows them to make strategic decisions on fertilizer application. This kind of ingenuity improves the health of the soil, limits input costs, and promotes stronger yields of cash crops in the fall.
Due to their combined efforts in working with the land rather than against it, Tiffany Cattle Co. has brought high-quality, sustainable beef to tables across the nation. Their efforts further prove that farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists, and we should look to Shawn and Shane for inspiration to leave the land cleaner, safer, and healthier than we found it.