Potato producer and feedlot take organic approach

The Kasko Cattle Company feedlot is proof that integrating cows and crops can protect the environment while boosting the bottom line.

The 14,000-head feedlot near Taber is surrounded by 10 quarter sections owned by Ryan Kasko, and Harold and Chris Perry. While Kasko owns and operates the feedlot, the Perry family’s expertise is in producing potatoes, sunflowers and peas on 4,600 owned and rented acres close to Chin, about 40 kilometres from the feedlot.

The Perrys have used cattle manure compost as fertilizer for the past decade and Harold Perry says it’s been highly beneficial. Productivity had been dropping on land under cultivation in a four-year potato crop rotation, but rebounded when compost was applied, he said. The compost not only provides organic fertilizer, but is also an excellent soil amendment, adding micronutrients and providing other biological benefits.

“We wanted to try compost because that is the natural way that things work,” said Perry. “When the buffalo were here, they ate and manured the grass at the same time, and that’s how the natural cycle worked.”

Compost also costs less than commercial fertilizer, said Perry.

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