The road to higher profits starts with changing the way you see your operation, according to Don Campbell, a Saskatchewan rancher and longtime advocate of holistic management.
“Holistic management has made a big difference in my life and that’s why I teach and consult, because I want people to have a better life,” the Meadow Lake producer told attendees at the Western Canadian Grazing Conference.
The second-generation rancher owns and operates B-C Ranch Inc., a 4,500-acre, grass-based operation on which he runs about 650 cows. He has been practising holistic management for 25 years and conducts six-day courses across Western Canada.
Campbell encouraged his audience to think about their value and the important services they provide to local communities and to civilization.
“It’s so important that we understand that agriculture supports civilization, not the other way around,” he said. “If agriculture fails, civilization fails.”
Campbell defines agriculture as a three-pronged approach that involves caring for people, improving your land and making a profit. He said holistic management has allowed him to achieve all three, and to decrease his workload, by helping him make better decisions.
“We doubled our cattle numbers and reduced our workload by working in tune with nature,” he said. “That’s a powerful thing.”
If producers focus on making their land more fertile, they will have increased grass production during all conditions. Campbell said producers should work with nature, stop overgrazing and attempt to improve their ecosystem.
Maximizing the capture of solar energy, capturing water during the water cycle, the mineral cycle and improving the natural transfer of energy are also important components.
In order to change management styles, producers must often make paradigm shifts and change the way they see things, said Campbell.
“If you want to make a major change in your life, you don’t change how you do it, you change how you see it,” he said.
Making changes in decisions can help producers balance their pocketbook, but it often includes thinking outside the box, creating and adapting. A good place to start is by shifting the focus from production to profit, he said.
“We need to change our paradigm from production, which most of us are good at, to profit, which most of us don’t do very well at,” he said.