Land Stewardship

One of the ranch's primary goals is to maintain a sound land stewardship strategy intended to leave the natural resources on the ranch in as good or better condition than before.

Without sustainable rangeland and water, we could not produce the quality cattle our market demands. Being a good steward to the land ensures our future success.


Conservation and Environmental Practices

Thirteen photo sites are documented on the ranch. Photos are taken each year in June. This documentation provides management with an historical benchmark and a perspective on how future management decisions may affect the range.

Land

Through years of experience and assistance from Universities like MSU - Bozeman and government agencies such as the Natural Resource & Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation the ranch has been able to sustain a productive land base. In 1984, a range and livestock management computer program, based on rated carrying capacity was developed by A.S. Lang, a M.I.T. graduate and an owner in the ranch, to assist management in monitoring range conditions and field usage. This computer program also incorporates an inventory tracking of all ranch livestock as well as a planning program that schedules cattle moves a year in advance based upon rated range capacity and synchronizes to Microsoft Outlook for distribution to ranch managers and foremen. It also allows management to review monthly inventory changes such as death loss, sales, purchases, and field usage. The program allows managers to change the cattle movement schedule according to weather or personnel. Computer modeling has proven vital in managing the ranch’s number one asset… the land.

IX Ranch range management practices are based on the concept of high stocking densities for short periods of time. Rated capacities are based on the ranch’s “take half, leave half” principle. Seasonal grazing rotation and rest rotation when possible, enable grass species to endure even during the driest of years. Electric fence and stock water developments have increased grazing flexibility and range conditions enabling the ranch to reduce acres/animal unit. The maximum amount of time any group of cattle is in a field is 45 days.

The ranch has worked with companies such as Hubbard Feeds (Crystalyx), Cenex Harvest States, Dow Elanco, and others to develop new and improved ways of protecting and enhancing range conditions for livestock and wildlife that inhabit the area. Water, soil, grass and hay samples are taken annually at ranch location to ensure adequate mineral supplementation for livestock. These efforts have also provided a sustainable wildlife population.

Noxious Weed Control

Currently 8.4 million acres or about 9% of Montana is covered with noxious weeds. One of our states' most devastating weeds is Leafy Spurge. A native of Europe and Asia, Leafy Spurge was introduced into the U.S. in the 1800's and by the early 1900's had spread to many of the western states. Infestations in Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas alone cost agriculture producers and taxpayers more than $144 million a year in production losses.

In 1994 the IX Ranch began developing a biological control program in cooperation with local and state agencies to combat this devastating weed. Over 3 million adult flea beetles (nigricutis and lacertosa) have been distributed to various Leafy Spurge sites around the ranch since the program’s inception. Many of those sites today are now collection sites where beetles are harvested and relocated to other Leafy Spurge locations around the ranch.

Water

One of the limiting factors in North Central Montana is stock water. Over the past 55 years, the IX Ranch has developed and improved over 90 off-stream stock water sites including springs, wells, pipelines, reservoirs and windmills. As a part of the ranch’s management objectives, new site locations are continually being sought. Programs such as the USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) have assisted the ranch in developing and improving its stock water and grazing systems. These combined efforts are helping to increase water distribution and livestock carrying capacity around the ranch while limiting the use of riparian areas.

Biological Weed Control

Currently 8.4 million acres or about 9% of Montana is covered with noxious weeds. One of the most devastating weeds to our region is Leafy Spurge. A native of Europe and Asia, Leafy Spurge was introduced into the U.S. in the 1800's and by the early 1900's had spread to many of the western states. Infestations in Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas alone cost agriculture producers and taxpayers more than $144 million a year in production losses.

Over 1 million adult flea beetles (nigricutis and lacertosa) have been distributed to various Leafy Spurge sites around the ranch since 1994. Many of those sites today are now collection sites where beetles are harvested and relocated to other Leafy Spurge locations around the ranch.

Montana Environmental Stewardship

Enironmental Stweardship Award

In 2007 the ranch was awarded the Montana Environmental Stewardship Award and joined the National Carbon Credit Exchange.

www.environmentalstewardship.org

Undaunted Stewardship

Undaunted Stewardship

In 2004, the IX Ranch became certified under the Undaunted Stewardship Program. "A cooperative and multi-faceted program led by federal, state and private sector agencies, and this program seeks to ensure the long-term maintenance of the environmental quality and economic productivity of privately-owned agricultural landscapes."

www.undauntedstewardship.montana.edu

Big Sandy, Montana