Alec Ibach is a 5th generation
rancher. He runs his family’s
1,000-head cow-calf ranch
near Sumner and has pastures
near Purdum. Care of the cattle
and conservation of land and
water are very important to
Alec uses grazing rotations
in the summer to better utilize natural resources. His
pastures are located in two different ecosystems.
He must graze them differently for conservation.
Shane Greving is a 5th generation
farmer. He works with his dad
and brother on the family farm.
They have 5,000 acres of corn,
including seed corn and popcorn,
Shane uses many conservation
practices at his farm. All of the
soybean acres are planted no-
till. They use crop rotation and plant soybeans into
the standing corn residue (what is left of the plant/
stalk after harvest). They plant corn acres using
strip-till. Both methods reduce soil erosion, conserve
moisture, and help control weeds.
We use good grazing habits and conservation because
it is good for the animals and more sustainable for the
long-term. By maximizing the use of our land and water,
we will sustain it for future generations.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Have you ever heard of “cause and effect”? It is when something happens (cause) and makes something else
happen in response (effect).
Read the information on these two pages again. Then, list two examples of cause and effect that are described in
the text. An example might be: Subsurface irrigation delivers water underground (cause). That way, there is less
water evaporation (effect).
WHAT’S AN ECOSYSTEM?
An ecosystem includes all the living plants,
animals, and other organisms in a given area. They
interact with the weather, sun, soil, and climate.
Land near Purdum is in the Sandhills, which has sandier
soil. Alec rotates cattle through a section of pasture
there every two weeks. It better utilizes nutrients, avoids
overgrazing, and prevents blowouts. A blowout occurs
where cows eat all the grass and there is no vegetation
to hold soil in place, so erosion can occur. Pastures near
Sumner are in south central plains and have more silt
in their soil make-up, so sections can be grazed longer.
Grazing rotations keep grass and vegetation healthy and
growing, which prevents soil erosion and helps retain
moisture in the soil.
Grazing rotations improve wildlife habitats and increase
the populations of grouse, prairie chickens, and
pheasants. Birds and other wildlife often drink water out of
the cattle tanks.
Farmers and ranchers in Nebraska keep our natural resources in good shape. That way, they can continue to
provide us with agricultural products we eat and use every day!
CROP ROTATIONS - Farmers don’t plant the same crop
in the same place each year. This keeps the soil from
being depleted of nutrients.
GRAZING ROTATIONS - Ranchers don’t let their livestock
graze in the same pasture all the time. This manages the
quality of soil and amount of water needed.
NO-TILL - Seeds are planted in ground without plowing
or disturbing the soil. This conserves moisture and
helps with weed control.
STRIP-TILL - Farmers work or till a small strip where
seeds will be planted. There is less erosion and
fertilizer/nutrients can be applied directly in the strip.
COVER CROPS - Crops grown to protect and enrich the
soil. They are planted in the off season before elds
are needed for crops (like corn!).
IRRIGATION - Applying water to land. There are three
Flood irrigation: water is delivered to eld by ditch or
pipe and ows over ground through the crop
Center-pivot irrigation: equipment rotates around a
pivot, and crops are watered with sprinklers
Subsurface (drip) irrigation: uniform application of
small quantities of water at spaces below the soil
Farmers and ranchers use a variety of methods to protect and care for the land. Here are a few:
AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION TERMS
All of their land is irrigated. According to Shane,
subsurface irrigation is the most efcient use of water,
as there is no evaporation because the water is all
Greving’s family also uses cover crops, including rye,
turnips, and radishes. The cover crops use any excess
nutrients in the soil to prevent them from going into
groundwater. They also retain more moisture in the soil,
which reduces the amount of irrigation needed. The soil
builds up through the nutrients and organic matter, which
reduces the amount of fertilizer needed on the soil.