Lloyd Noble knew what he believed in.
He articulated the principles that defined him but understood that words rang hollow without action. He spoke of the resolve necessary to achieve success in one’s occupation. Then he lived it. As a young entrepreneur in the oil fields of the early 20th century, he often left the boardroom to labor in the field. He slept at his companies’ drilling sites and drove the pipe wagons to learn more about the day-to-day operations. He invested in technology and implemented untested idea. He revolutionized the oil and energy sector, not through his words, but through his vision and accompanying daily deeds.
He spoke of patriotism and the fundamental right of freedom. Then he lived it. When England stood on the brink of an energy crisis during World War II, Noble was the centerpiece of a secret mission that drilled for oil within the famed Sherwood Forest. His action in the face of others’ inaction resulted in an energy supply that helped alleviate one of the more significant pressures on the British government. Noble did not take a penny of compensation for this costly and heroic act. He did what he knew was right, not just for his country, but for the freedom of those he would never meet.
More than all, Noble spoke about the importance of the land and soil. A survivor of the Dust Bowl, he rallied for the urgent preservation of soil. He outlined a practical need to conserve this exhaustible resource and a moral obligation to protect it for future generations. Then he lived it. Noble took his own resources and established Noble Research Institute, a permanent resource of research and the dissemination of knowledge and skills for agriculture.
We are blessed to be part of an organization founded by a man who took the time to describe and clarify his beliefs. Because of our founder, those of us at Noble Research Institute know what we believe in. We have been endowed with a set of core values — collaboration and humility, integrity and leadership — that take shape and form as we put them into practice. These simple words become the blueprint of our deeds.
We believe — as our founder did — that the soil and the land are our nation’s most valuable assets and that both require intentional management.
We believe focusing on land stewardship in beef cattle production with producer profitability offers us the greatest opportunity to impact our environment, agriculture and the men and women who steward these land and animal resources. The single largest use of land in the United States — roughly 650 million acres — is pasture and rangeland. About 85% of this land is unsuitable to grow anything but cattle.
We believe managing these acres is no less critical than managing land for fruits and vegetables. Properly managed grazing lands are less susceptible to erosion, hold water to sustain through periods of drought as well as reduce runoff, enable productive plant growth, require less fertilizer and other inputs, positively impact water quality, and sequester atmospheric carbon.
We believe beef cattle play a critical role in soil health. The plants — grasses, legumes and forbs — found in our grasslands use the sun’s energy to move carbon into the soil through managed grazing, thus improving the soil. Cattle convert these non-human food plants into meat, recycle nutrients through manure distribution and assist us in managing our nation’s grasslands.
We believe producers must make a living from the land. Profitability is the practical reality of any profession, and agriculture is no different. Few can remain in a profession that consistently costs more than it returns. If ranchers cannot make enough to maintain their operations, they can lose their livelihood, their legacy and their children’s inheritance. More so, producers who can barely sustain their operations — like many of us in other professions — often sacrifice long-term (land stewardship) practices for short-term returns.
We believe in each of these principles, and we give life to them through our chief pursuits.
Everything begins with the farmer and rancher. Noble has built generational relationships with producers through our consultation, interaction and friendship. We work to provide them with the knowledge and skills to rehabilitate their entire system: soils, plant, animal, water and economics. We tailor recommendations to fit their particular operation because there is no one-size-fits-all management plan. Most importantly, we answer their questions, provide encouragement and help them see what may lie ahead. Our guidance is not just based on experiences but tested research.
The questions our nation’s ranchers ask and the challenges they face serve as the starting point for our research. Noble’s interconnected research system spans from the laboratory to the field. We breed grazing plants for cattle and soil benefit, improved timing of production, and changing climates. Through our own research and demonstration ranches, we practice what we teach and seek to improve recognized best management practices through experimentation and the introduction of innovations. This is not just research for research’s sake. Our research is designed to transform the status quo. Then we offer a competency-based educational program in which we convey practical skills to producers of all ages and experience levels.
At the end of the day, we seek to provide a nation of farmers and ranchers with data-driven information to make knowledgeable decisions for their operations, mitigate risk and give them the best opportunity to succeed. These are our beliefs. In action.