A farm near Miami, Manitoba now in the hands of a third generation is the Pembina Valley Conservation District Award winner for 2018.
Sandy and Ian Steppler, along with Ian’s three brothers Geoff, Adam and Andre together crop 3,500 acres, calve 500 head of purebred Charolais cattle and manage a large 1,200-hive apiary.
The Stepplers have distinct soil types on a diverse range of landscapes on their farm, and use soil management practices to counter everything from hilltop wind erosion to heavy flatland and salinity down below. A third of the farm is zero till, a third minimal tillage and a third conventional, all depending on soil type.
The cattle are grazed on the farm’s marginal land areas, with pastures fenced off into paddocks and rotationally grazed.
And as the Stepplers say, while farmers can see weeds in anything other than the crops they grow, they see things a little differently as beekeepers.
“We also view weeds as weeds, but along with keeping our landscape weed free, we make a point of providing places within our farm where weeds can grow as bee food,” says Ian Steppler.
“It’s these natural pockets which help keep my bees and nature alive.”