Sustainability Stories: Gabe Brown Ranch

Regenerating the Land - How Brown's Ranch Practices Sustainable Agriculture in North Dakota

Gabe Brown Ranch


Nestled east of Bismarck, North Dakota, Brown's Ranch embodies a philosophy that goes beyond simply raising cattle. As the Brown family says, "We believe that faith, family and working with the natural resources that God has provided allows us a meaningful life. We enjoy using these resources to regenerate landscapes for a sustainable future."

This dedication to sustainability has been a driving force for the ranch since Gabe and Shelly Brown purchased it from Shelly's parents in 1991. Over the years, the operation has grown to encompass 5,000 acres of owned and leased land. Now, their son Paul leads the ranch, building upon 13 years of hard work and the knowledge passed down through generations.

"We believe in and practice Holistic Management," Paul explains, "a philosophy that encourages farming and ranching in nature's image." This translates into a commitment to solving problems through natural solutions and prioritizing the health of the land.

Here are some key practices Brown's Ranch uses to achieve sustainable agriculture:

  • No-Till Farming: Since 1993, the ranch has eliminated tillage, a practice that can disrupt soil health. This allows for better water retention and a thriving ecosystem within the soil.
  • Diverse Cropping: Brown's Ranch utilizes cover crops and companion planting to create a more diverse and resilient agricultural system. This not only benefits the soil but also attracts beneficial insects and promotes natural pest control.
  • Reduced Chemical Use: The ranch has eliminated synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides. They use minimal herbicides and are actively working to eliminate them altogether. Additionally, they avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate, a common herbicide.
  • Extended Grazing Rotation: Brown's Ranch implements a grazing strategy that allows pastures ample recovery time, often exceeding 360 days. This prevents overgrazing and promotes healthy plant growth.

These sustainable practices have led to a multitude of benefits for Brown's Ranch. The soil health has improved dramatically, leading to better water retention and nutrient cycling. Additionally, the ranch has seen increased production and profitability, all while ensuring the land remains healthy for future generations.

Brown's Ranch serves as a shining example of how sustainable agriculture can be a win-win for both farmers and the environment. Their dedication to working with nature, not against it, paves the way for a more sustainable future for agriculture in North Dakota.