Blackstone Ranch is a cow/calf operation with 160 acres of irrigated pasture, 346 acres irrigated alfalfa, and 346 acres range pasture in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico.
“As ranch staff learned more about grazing planning and implementation, the results began to show – stocking rate increased over 200%, livestock gross income increased by 395%, animal day production increased almost 300%, and stock density increased by 220%.” – Blackstone and Livestock Manager, John Adams
In 2003 Pat and Susan Black purchased the Blackstone Ranch in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. The Blacks already owned a biodiesel facility in Pennsylvania and funded the Blackstone Institute, a foundation that funded sustainability focused working groups. The ranch in Ranchos de Taos is approximately 160 acres (64 ha) of mostly irrigated pasture, and they also own property in Questa (a colder and drier location approximately 45 minutes to the North) which includes 140 acres (56 ha) of range as well as 346 acres (138 ha) of irrigated alfalfa. From a business standpoint Blackstone is a cow/calf herd of approximately 60 head of Black Angus. In 2007, Pat and Susan continued their commitment to achieving sustainable agricultural practices and hired Holistic Management International to train Blackstone employees in a variety of sustainable land and cattle management techniques to help produce a healthier landscape.
When HMI began working with Blackstone and Livestock Manager, John Adams, there were a number of issues to address due to previous infrastructure decisions and additional recreational use of the land as well as concerns about management practices by neighbors. As the crew at Blackstone worked to improve land health they demonstrated how ranching can be carbon neutral because when soil samples were compared after two years there was a significant increase in organic matter in most pastures. When using standard calculations on the number of acres and the percentage increase in organic matter, it was calculated that Blackstone had sequestered an additional 13,638 tons of CO2. If the ecological services of that sequestered carbon were given a $25/ton value (as some scientists have calculated), then Blackstone created $340,954 additional value through increased organic matter. Likewise, if you take the average of 6 tons of CO2 each person in the U.S. contributes to the atmosphere, then in one year Blackstone helped 2,273 people become carbon neutral.
Baseline monitoring in 2008/09 showed improvements:
- Organic Matter increase average 48%. Some areas as much as 90%
- Bare ground decrease average 27%. One pasture had a decrease in plant spacing of 400%
- Plant diversity increase average of 106% and as much as 1