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Ecology and the economy: Pete Ferrell
The Ferrell Ranch is a multi-purpose property operating as both a cattle ranch and a wind farm. Ferrell’s 7,000 acre native tallgrass prairie in south central Kansas is home to the Elk River Wind Farm. The ranch is 100% native prairie with no planted, non-native acreage. Intensive rotational grazing and an annual land management plan ensure that the pastures have ample rest and recovery between grazings. Updated according to climatic conditions, the plan prioritizes the health of the land and the surrounding ecosystem.
The turbines on Pete’s property produce enough renewable energy to power 42,000 homes. The wind farm diversified the ranch’s income stream which provides some economic security during drought periods, as Pete will happily point out, "The wind blows even in a drought.” This security offers the flexibility to prioritize land preservation and to focus on the health of the soil and the entire ecosystem when making stocking decisions. The Ferrell ranch is a model of the idea that what is good for the ecology creates a sustainable economy.