Year Inducted: 2008
Alexander, North Dakota
Nominated by the North Dakota Stockman's Association
The Hovde Ranch of Alexander, N. D., has been selected as one of the seven regional recipients of the 2008 Environmental Stewardship Award. The annual award recognizes cattle operations that are proven stewards of the land, and dedicated to natural resource conservation through the use of innovative, cost-effective stewardship practices.
Located in the northwestern corner of North Dakota, the Hovde Ranch was nominated by the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and selected from entries submitted within the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)’s Region VII, which includes North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.
“The Hovde Ranch is a diversified cattle operation that has incorporated conservation into their everyday activities,” said Dave Petty, chairman of the selection committee. “This has made the ranch sustainable, environmentally responsible and has enabled the operation to grow.”
Owned by Lynn and Patti Hovde, the operation is a commercial caw-calf, backgrounding, feedlot and heifer development program. Homesteaded in 1907, the Hovde’s raise cash crops of spring wheat, malting barley and safflower.
A multi-faceted operation, the Hovde family researched and developed a dam to hold water for irrigation purposes in 1978. The project was developed with the McKenzie County Soil Conservation Service (now NRCS) and North Dakota Water Commission.
In 1995, the irrigation pond began to also serve as a storage pond for the feedlot and met all necessary codes required by State and Federal laws with the assistance from NRCS. The pond began to serve even more purposes, including a water reserve for the irrigation systems, feedlot runoff and habitat for water fowl. With the low amounts of annual rainfall, the water storage facility has benefited the operation in providing a water source for cattle, crops and wildlife.
The Hovde’s additional environmental enhancements to the land include no-till farming, shelterbelts and nutrient management plan. In working with the NRCS through an Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Hovde’s are creating shelterbelts that include the removal of dead tree rows from the 30-year-old shelterbelt to improve forage production and interim protection from the cold winter winds.
“Partnerships are important for the Hovde family and it’s apparent in their ranch improvements,” said Petty. “In growing their operation, the family has implemented conservation practices that are innovative, productive and environmentally friendly. The practices that Lynn and Patti have implemented are being passed on to their son and his family, who have returned to the family ranch to learn, grow and assist his parents in meeting their stewardship goals.”
In addition to their water storage pond, the family also has the Arnegard Dam, a recreational body of water on their ranch. The McKenzie County (ND) Park Board holds the easement to the land surrounding the man-made lake. In working with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the state Water Commission, they restocked the dam with adult Northern Pike, along with making environmental cosmetic repairs to the dam.
The ranch’s water development practices have increased the abundant wildlife that co-exists with the growing cattle operation. Each of the seemingly separate enterprises on the Hovde Ranch is actually dependant on the others. The cow-calf operation is responsible for harvesting the grass and the calves enter the feedlot either as backgrounded steers or heifers for replacement development. The solid materials from the feedlot are used as a natural fertilizer that is applied to the crop lands at agronomic rates based on soil samples that have been taken. Linked together, the operation acts as a chain in creating a sustainable operation that is co-dependent upon the other income sources.
“The Hovde’s chain approach has allowed them to increase productivity and strengthen their commitment to the cattle industry,” said Petty. “They have been able to increase their feeding capacity and have assisted fellow producers in backgrounding their cattle. In providing this service to their neighbors, the Hovde’s are leaders in their community and the cattle industry.”
“The Hovde’s are always looking to gain further knowledge,” added Paul Deutsch, District Conservationist, North Dakota NRCS. “You see them at workshops from livestock management, range tours, crop production or anything educational that will help them improve their operation. With the Hovde’s son Nathan and his family returning to the operation, it shows that this ranch will keep moving in a positive direction for the next generation.”