KIRLAND – The Sanderson family of Kirkland was selected as the 2020 Illinois Beef Association Environmental Steward of the Year.
The award recognizes the Sanderson family as beef producers in Illinois whose natural resource stewardship practices protect the environment and contribute to productivity and profitability.
“Our goal is to leave the soil better than we found it," said Trent Sanderson. "We have always tried to do the best we could with the knowledge we had. We are all willing to learn and that has helped us persevere in the past and prepare for the future.”
The Sanderson Family operates row crop and cattle enterprises, as well as a consumer-direct beef and pork sales business. They have been able to implement sustainable practices into their operation such as rotational grazing, cover-crop and no-till practices, and utilizing grass strips for erosion control. They also make use of their cattle by using their manure as fertilizer and their hooves as tillage equipment.
“We are phasing out the feedlot, so we no longer need to haul manure," Sanderson said. "We want to be 100% pasture. The animals can do that for us, so we use less fuel and equipment. We keep things simple and we maintain our cycle of sustainable cattle and crop production.”
The family also established a local beef business, Pasture Grazed Sustainable Meats. This has allowed the family to develop an extra income through direct-to consumer beef sales.
In the future, Sanderson's goal is to rely solely on the farm for income.
“The goal is to improve our quality of life, pay off assets and grow high-quality products without the need for off-farm income,” Sanderson said. “This is a fun adventure. I hope I never stop learning.”