Cody and Deanna Sand
Forbes, North Dakota
McIntosh County Soil Conservation District
We, along with our children Bailey, Desa and Baxter, own and operate a 2,300 acre cow and calf ranch in Dickey and McIntosh counties. We began on our 3rd generation ranch in 1999. Since taking a Holistic Management Course in January 2011, we have been working on improving soil health and quality of life while minimizing inputs. We utilize a planned grazing system consisting 64 paddocks. We have put 400 acres of expired CRP back into grazing land. Our cows winter graze on rented corn stalks and crop aftermath with minimal supplementation. We are a part of the McIntosh County Soil Conservation District in Ashley, ND where Cody has recently been elected as a Supervisor.
Soil Health Practices:
On our ranch we adopted planned cell grazing and calving in June. With these adoptions we have dramatically increased our plant diversity, wildlife and pollinator habitat and have optimized our soil health and infiltration.
It was challenging with our initial changes going from conventional to a holistic management approach but we knew it was for the good. We had some turnaround in our herd in adapting to our new management system but now have achieved a strong herd of great mothers. The change was also labor intensive initially with taking our season long pastures and turning them into a 64 cell rotation. But after all the time and effort we’ve spent, we’ve noticed the significant changes in our whole operation’s ecosystem.
It is a challenge to convey to other producers how great change can be. Changing our entire ranching philosophy was not something we ever really thought about. After attending the HMI class we were open to new ideas. Each change led to another change and increased family time and quality of life. Now operating in a more holistic manner we have noticed improved herd health, more diverse rangeland as well as financial benefits.