The Surprising Environmental Reason This Guy Started Cattle Ranching

Alberta farmer Ben Campbell has always loved nature, but he didn’t always know that agriculture could go hand-in-hand with regeneration. When a friend told him that cattle ranching – a practice often thought of as unsustainable –  could actually have a positive impact on the land, he bought 4 beef cattle and grazed them on his land. And his farm only grew from there.

The reason for cattle farming in the prairies

Campbell knows that people often think of the Prairies as the most boring part of Canada. But they weren’t always that way. He says the prairies used to be rich with wildlife: bison, grizzlies, mountain lions, wolves and more. But human development of the prairies has drastically changed the area:

  • Over 90% of grassland species have been lost
  • 70% of grasslands have been converted and destroyed

And, as Campbell says, if you “take away nature, it gets boring”. Luckily, grass-fed cattle can help restore natural processes in the Canadian Grasslands, helping to diversify the ecosystem again – and that’s exactly what he is banking on.

How cattle ranching can help the environment

Bison used to be the primary drivers of the ecosystem in the grasslands, cycling dry and dormant grass through digestion and defecation – stimulating the soil by replacing its nutrients. But with Bison gone, plants often release their nutrients into the air, rather than back into the ground where they can benefit the land.

That’s where responsible cattle farming comes in: when cattle are raised and grazed similar to how bison used to live in the area, the ecosystem can thrive.

The long-term effect of responsible cattle ranching

For Campbell, cattle farming is more than a business. It’s a way to preserve the earth and restore its beauty for his children and others. And, it’s a way to enjoy nature:

  • “I thought agriculture was sort of controlling and mastering nature, and a battle against nature… I didn’t realize you could actually be in partnership and a dance with nature to really become a part of it. That feeling of togetherness, of oneness with nature and where you are, is a pretty rewarding and powerful experience”.

Intrigued? Watch his video or learn more about the farm on his website.

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