Farm family recognized
Eckenfels Farms has been in operation in Ste. Genevieve County since 1851. The farm was one of seven in the country to be awarded an Environmental Stewardship Award this year. - Submitted photo

The Eckenfels family farm in Ste. Genevieve was one of only seven beef farms in the country to be a 2009 Environmental Stewardship Award winner. 

Representing Region III of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the family was recognized at the 2009 Cattle Industry Summer Conference for their “whole-farm” commitment to protecting the area’s natural resources. Region III represents five states in the Midwest.

The family will go on to compete for the National award in January.

The family farm has been in operation since 1851. Owned by Bob Eckenfels and family, the farm consists of 330 acres of owned land and 100 acres of leased land. Corn, wheat, soybeans, hay, straw, firewood and 100 head of Angus cross cattle make Eckenfels Farm a diversified operation.  

Eckenfels Farm also markets corn-fed and grass-fed finished beef directly to the consumer.

Eckenfels plants his crops using no-till, which has proven to increase his returns and minimize erosion. He has utilized rotational grazing by cross fencing his fields using a combination of barbed wire and electric fence to maximize production. He’s also fencing his ponds to exclude livestock. By implementing these conservation practices, Eckenfels Farm provides wildlife habitat and improves pastures.

“Bob is what you would call an everyday environmentalist,” said Dave Petty, chairman of the Environmental Stewardship Award selection committee and 2001 national award winner. “By integrating his farming and cattle production, Bob is able to diversify his operation, making it viable and sustainable. Bob’s commitment to conservation and to others has led him to serve in many leadership positions in his community.”

Bob is the chairman of the Ste. Genevieve Soil and Water Conservation District in Ste. Genevieve.

The Environmental Stewardship Award — now in its 19th year — is an initiative of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation, with funding from Dow AgroSciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“Bob is a progressive adopter of new ideas and technologies that benefit and protect soil and water resources,” said Ben Davis, East Central Cattlemen’s Association advisor. 

Examples include:

• Installed ponds, fencing and watering systems through the state cost share program with the Ste. Genevieve County Soil and Water Conservation District

• Implemented an intensive grazing system to promote nutrient management and improve crop residue

• Planted warm season grasses in his grazing system

• Installed Giant Cane on his stream buffer to create wildlife habitat and control erosion.

• Promoted quail habitat on his farm

• Became the first farmer in his region of the state to install a dry hydrant in one of his ponds.  After doing so, 48 fellow landowners followed his lead

• Coordinated a pasture tour for the Heartland Forage Council

• Was instrumental in developing Ste. Genevieve County Conservation Field Day; hosted the event in its inaugural year

Eckenfels Farm was nominated for the Environmental Stewardship Award by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA, with which the family has partnered to apply conservation practices.

In addition, Bob has partnered with Missouri Outreach and Extension Service; Missouri Cattlemen’s Association; the Missouri Farm Bureau; Ste. Genevieve County Resource Conservation and Development and the U.S. Forest Service.

“By implementing these practices, Bob has hosted farm tours to show and promote the benefits of grazing systems and other improvements that will benefit producers and consumers,” said Petty.  “Bob’s greatest asset to environmental stewardship is one-on-one persuasion.  He is able to educate other about what works.”

The Environmental Stewardship Award has recognized the outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements of U.S. cattle producers for almost two decades. Regional and national award winners are honored for their commitment to protecting the environment and improving fish and wildlife habitat while operating profitable cattle operations.

For information or to nominate a cattle operation, visit the Award section.

The National Cattlemen's Foundation advances the future of the beef industry with passion and urgency for the benefit of consumers and cattlemen.

On Sept. 12, Eckenfels Farm hosted the Mississippi River Hills Association Farm Fantastic event.

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