Leopold Conservation Award Winner for 2016: Cronin Farms, Gettysburg, S.D. Back »

Cronin Farms of Gettysburg, SD is a multi-generational diversified livestock and crop operation owned by Monty and Mike Cronin and their wives Nancy and Jamie. Photo by South Dakota NRCS.

On a beautiful day in South Dakota over 180 producers, sponsors, friends and neighbors of the Cronin family gathered to celebrate the acknowledgment of their sustainable farming and ranching practices that were implemented beginning in the early 1990s.

The Sand County Foundation (Madison, Wisconsin) and two South Dakota partners, the SD Grassland Coalition and the SD Cattleman’s Association, sponsor the Leopold Award. All three partners are committed to working with private landowners to promote ethical and scientifically based sustainable land management practices. This is the 7th year the award has been presented in South Dakota which is also supported by an additional 19 organizations that all recognize Aldo Leopold as a leader in land conservation ethics.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” A. Leopold (1949)

About Cronin Farms

The Cronin Farm began in 1910 utilizing conventional farming practices. The Cronin Farm implemented no till cropping in 1993, cover crops in 2006, and varied rotational grazing responding to their annual needs, in addition to enhancing crop diversity from 4 to 12 crops, including flax, kale, sunflowers, and radishes, which has minimized the use of fertilizers and herbicides. They have also incorporated perennial grasses and forbs into corridors to promote habitat for ground nesting birds, wildlife, and pollinators.

Their cattle have been bred to perform well on a diet primarily consisting of forage crops and are rotationally grazed on cover crops in fall and winter, in addition to crop residues following harvest.

The farm today is managed as a family “team effort” led by Monty and Mike Cronin and their agronomist Dan Forgey. Monty’s sons, Casey and Cory, run the cattle side of the operation while Mike’s son, Tregg, handles the crop side and markets the grain.

The festivities included welcoming sweets and coffee, the formal presentation of the award, a presentation on the award’s significance by Jay Fuhrer, a delicious beef lunch, a rainfall simulator demonstration by NRCS, with farm and ranch tours on hay bales, and the day ended with SDSU ice cream.

The Cronin Farm is holding a tour on Oct 5th to share field site demonstrations on how they have successful integrated cover crops and livestock grazing. Plan to attend!

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