By Gary Sliworsky, Ag rep, Emo
The Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes the outstanding environmental stewardship of an Ontario cattleman.
Special consideration is given to producers who have taken innovative approaches to environmentally-sustainable cattle production.
The Ontario Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) just announced that Amos and Heidi Brielmann are the winners of this year’s TESAward, sponsored by RBC Royal Bank and the OCA.
The Brielmanns operate a 1,500-head cow/calf ranch near Pinewood, and were nominated for the award by Kim Jo Bliss, a fellow producer here in Rainy River District.
The award was presented at the 2009 OCA annual general meeting.
Their Pine River Ranch has a goal of making a profit with healthy cows, healthy land, and healthy family. The Brielmanns continue to make improvements which not only benefit the environment, but also the livestock they raise which should, in turn, increase productivity as well as profitability.
Brielmann, his wife, Heidi, and children, Susanne and Timo, have worked hard on their farm and are very deserving of this award. They have undertaken numerous environmental improvements.
Not only have many been completed, but more are in progress as the family works to continuously improve their operation.
Pine River Ranch operates roughly 2,000 hectares of hay and pasture land, breeding 600 Angus/Angus cross beef cows—wintering all calves and grazing them the following year.
Examples of environmental projects undertaken include fenced off waterways and installation of solar pumps (a real challenge was to provide fresh water for up to 600 calves, even when it is minus-40 degrees C).
Brielmann noted they were fortunate enough to have support from the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, the Rainy River Soil and Crop Improvement Association, the Rainy River First Nations’ watershed program, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and The Green Cover Canada Plan.
The Brielmanns have created riparian areas over 12 km and expanded their wintering lots from seven hectares to 43, which, in turn, has reduced the animal density to less than five animal units per hectare.
More than 15,000 trees also have been planted on the ranch while the low water cattle crossings that have been installed are very impressive.
One of ranch’s major improvements—installing the solar watering system—has proven to be very beneficial to Rainy River District. Since the Brielmanns started the remote watering systems, there was a strong acceptance from the larger farmer community.
These systems have provided many others with the tools to be able to fence off creeks, rivers, and dugouts.
Pine River Ranch also has been helping other farmers to design solar-powered winter watering systems. These systems have given others the option to feed cows during the winter months away from the conventional barnyard.
This practice is reducing the manure loads in the farm yards during the winter and in the spring with run-offs.
The Brielmanns will go on to represent Ontario at the national Environmental Stewardship Award competition to be held the week of Aug. 9, in Regina, Sask.