TerraPurezza at Shield Ranch
At Shield Ranch, stewarding and protecting the Hill Country ecosystem is its solemn purpose. A 6,800-acre family ranch established in 1938, just 18 miles from downtown Austin, the Ranch is home to a mosaic of habitats, a diverse community of native plants and animals, and over six breathtaking miles of Barton Creek. Through an evolving program of land management, unique nature immersion experiences, and conservation easements with the Nature Conservancy and the City of Austin, Shield Ranch offers something exceptionally rare in a rapidly urbanizing community—a truly wild place.
Shield Ranch has joined forces with TerraPurezza, a regenerative agriculture institute and farm owned and managed by husband and wife team: Tina and Orion Weldon. TerraPurezza’s mission is to change the way food is produced and how people relate to the land. The Shield Ranch-TerraPurezza partnership focuses on using a collection of regenerative agriculture techniques that approach food production with a goal of rehabilitating soil health, rebuilding native grasslands, and restoring natural water cycles. These regenerative methods increase efficiency of production and revitalize native habitats simultaneously. They include techniques such as rotational grazing of high-density livestock, effective water management via land augmentation, restoration of native plants, and the highest levels of animal welfare.
Currently, TerraPurezza utilizes 65 acres on Shield Ranch. There are 65 half-acre to 1-acre paddocks where they practice adaptive rotational grazing with a team of heritage breed hogs, some of which are native to Texas and known for their hardiness and foraging activity. As the hogs are moved through the pasture they till and aerate the soil, leaving the opportunity to apply regenerative treatments to each paddock as they move through the 65-acres.
The Shield Ranch-TerraPurezza partnership agrees to monitor the effects on the soil and ecological biodiversity with regard to the influences of the multi-species grazing strategy being implemented by TerraPurezza. This grazing strategy currently includes pigs, but sheep and chickens are soon to come into the rotation followed by various treatments that will be applied to restore native vegetation, increase soil health and soil water holding capacity, and to restore habitat for native wildlife.
The regenerative treatments that will follow the grazing plan include various combinations of nurse cover crop plants, woodchip cover applications, and planting of native seed mixes. There are five transects on the farm.