Four Generations of Forward Thinking

family members in green field

Vance and Clint Lungren run two separate businesses from their base of operations in Wyoming: Lungren Family Cattle and the South Flat Land and Livestock Company. 

“We’re the fourth generation here. Our great-grandfather Adam started the ranch, and it continued as Lungren Brothers until about 25 years ago, when we reorganized as a partnership that included our grandfather, father, and the two of us,” said Vance.

The farming side is the South Flat Land and Livestock Company, and the cattle operation is Lungren Family Cattle. 

“It’s been a good blend to have both cow-calf and farming operations,” said Clint. 

Sugar Beets and Sustainability 

The Lungren land was owned originally by the Holly Sugar Company, now Wyoming Sugar. Sugar beets remain the primary crop, along with several specialty crops, including malt barley and alfalfa for seed. 

Sugar beets are a water-intensive crop, and in the area where the Lungren’s farm, less than 10 inches of rain fall most years. Irrigation is critical to their success. Their focus is on the best and smartest use of irrigation for their operation. 

“We originally used flood irrigation primarily,” said Vance. “That limits what tillage and pest management changes you can make because you still have that water running down the furrow and any tracks within your field—or changes in planting—can interrupt that irrigation.” 

“We embarked on an expensive journey, but at the same time, we were seeing the rewards pretty rapidly from that change.”
– Clint Lungren, Owner and Farmer

Between 2004 to 2019, they moved to sprinkler irrigation with the help of cost share, putting in an average of 2 sprinklers per year and they immediately saw efficiencies in decreased manpower and increased yields. 

This made strip tillage more of a possibility—and eventually, a reality on their land. But getting there had its challenges. They started dabbling in strip till before they had GPS on the implement itself, which made it extremely hard for the planter to follow the strip tiller. 

“The first year, the planter made squiggly rows falling from one side to the other side of the strip-tilled zone,” said Clint. “I had to have my nephew, Kaden, steer the tractor for me because I was so consumed with looking behind and steering the actual digger to keep it following the squiggly planted beet rows.” 

The solution: Equip both planter and strip tiller with steerable disks hooked to GPS to independently steer themselves and hold true to a GPS line. 

“What some people don’t realize these days is that strip tillage became an option thanks to a lot of other practices and changes that occurred prior. I think it’s important to remember what made strip tillage possible in the first place,” said Vance.

GMO traits, newer seed treatments and GPS systems had to come together to make strip tillage, which South Flat began to employ in earnest around 2008, both practical and economically viable. 

“We were looking at all these opportunities to do away with the different passes we had on the field and to maybe think about limiting our tillage,” said Vance. “Others were also dabbling in strip till back then. But we were definitely on the front end in our area.” 

The Strip Tillage Story

“One of the primary reasons we were driven to strip tillage at the very beginning is that we have some sandy fields,” added Clint. “If you work those using traditional practices, it just turns them into a kind of a fine powder and that sand blows terribly in the spring.” 

“With strip tillage, we’re mostly following barley stubble, which holds the ground from blowing. That’s where strip tillage really shines for us—not to mention all the fuel savings from eliminating as many as six passes across the fields.”
– Clint Lungren, Owner and Farmer

Cows, Calves and Sustainability

The combination of row-crop and cow-calf operations has proven important as well. Their cows, for example, convert and redeposit any remaining crop residue, as fertilizer. 

"I don’t think you see row-crop farms near cow-calf operations all that often and it lends itself to more than a few advantages," said Clint.

“We’re about to trail the cows again this year from the rangeland to the farmland pasture— and we specifically set aside fields, plant crops and organize crop rotation so those cattle can graze on crop residues all winter,” said Vance. “Then, when we’re ready to start farming again, those cattle go back out to the rangeland.” 

Another part of their sustainability efforts is the grazing management program they put together with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). About half of the acreage on which they run cattle is public land. Adhering to the BLM’s grazing strategies has worked well for them. 

“Some people think the BLM can be too conservative, but that has not been the case for us,” said Clint. “We’ve gone through some pretty serious drought conditions here and haven’t had to cut numbers during those stretches.” 

Unique, Seamless Ownership Transition

Economic sustainability is critical as a fourth-generation operation intent on giving future generations a viable way of life. For the Lungrens, that means applying lessons learned from their grandfather. 

“We had a very special grandfather who had a desire to do a seamless ownership transition,” said Vance. “He just wanted this place to be sustainable— and he saw something in Clint and me that made him willing to basically do a generational skip to get us some ownership sooner rather than later.” 

We’ve just seen multiple generations before us do the same—and we’re not going to be the ones to let it fall through the cracks,” said Clint.

From forward-thinking past generations to forward-thinking approaches to water use and the land, South Flat Land and Livestock, together with Lungren Family Cattle, are a case study in sustainable agriculture. 



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