(Photo credit: Walnut Hill Farm)

Fifteen years ago, Michael Kovach was drilling oil and gas wells in western Pennsylvania. But the boom in shale oil production made it difficult for his small company to compete, so he switched to farming. These days, you’ll find him raising grass-fed beef.

At his family’s Walnut Hill Farm, cattle and sheep graze in long grass, and pigs forage in a wooded area.

Kovach carefully manages the livestock to prevent overgrazing and to work more carbon into the soil.

“Building organic matter into the soil is really a great way to retain a lot of the excess water that we’ve seen over the last few years, especially,” he says.

Kovach encourages other farmers to adopt similar strategies.

His focus on climate change may seem surprising given his former career, but he says there are parallels.

“I got into oil and gas in the day when that was seen as the best bridge to the next big thing,” he says. “And it was way cleaner than continuing to tear the tops off of mountains for coal.”

He says it was not a perfect solution, but a step in the right direction.

“Likewise, today I feel like I’m doing my bit to make food better, make soil better, make animal welfare better, all those things,” he says.

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Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Food & Agriculture, Jobs & Economy