November 25, 2014

Sand Hills rancher wins accolades for conservation efforts

A cattle ranch in the Sand Hills area of the state is being awarded the 2014 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. Duane and Nancy Pelster represent the third generation managing the Pelster Angus Ranch along the Cedar River near Ericson.

Duane Pelster is recognized as a pioneer in the use of rotational grazing. He says that practice has really improved the grass health and allowed wildlife to thrive on his operation.

“Depending upon how many pastures we’ve got depends on how long they stay in each pasture,” Pelster says. “We never start the same pasture two years in a row, we switch. Where we started last year will be last this year. It gives it quite a bit of time to recover.”

Pelster says he’s worked with several technical experts on his conservation management.

“We worked with the NRCS office and we got some Equip money to put in the water line and a bunch of tanks,” he says. “We’re enrolled in the CPS now and that kind of helps us continue with it. We worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the NRD.”

Pelster has reduced the risk of soil damage and made conditions better for livestock and wildlife by installing over 25 miles of pipeline. He’s also planted nearly 80,000 coniferous trees to provide shelterbelts and windbreaks on the ranch.

The $10,000 award and crystal depicting Aldo Leopold will be presented to the Pelsters at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Convention in December. The award is sponsored by the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, the Sand County Foundation and Cargill.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton