Whose opinion do you care about?

When we consider that some people have qualified opinions about some topics, and some people have qualified opinions about few topics, whose opinion do you choose to care about?

If you want to make a change on your farming operation how important is the opinion of your neighbors? The folks at church? The coffee shop? How important is the opinion of your family?

Does anyone in any of these groups have a qualified opinion about the changes you are trying to make?

If you care about their opinion, and their opinion is not yet qualified, how can you give them the necessary information to help them develop a qualified opinion?

Alternatively, are you able to ignore their unqualified opinion, and only rely on advisors who do have qualified opinions?

Being conscious and deliberate about whose opinion we care about can be very liberating.

Surround yourself with peers and advisors whose opinions you actually care about, and making changes in life or on a farm becomes much easier.

2022-02-02T05:57:23-05:00February 11th, 2022|

Vanished yield potential

How much yield is lost every year because we don’t apply the knowledge from the past?

Huber, McNeil, Zimmer, and others have reported regularly achieving 400+ bu per acre corn yields during the ’70s and ’80s. What happened? How was that yield potential lost? Why are we going backward? Why haven’t we made more progress?

From my podcast interview with Gary Zimmer:

John: What is something that you believe to be true about modern agriculture that is very different from the mainstream view?

Gary: When I was at Brookside, back in 1976, I visited a farm in northern Illinois that was growing 375-bushel corn, with a public variety of corn from the University of Illinois, on forty-inch rows. You could stick your hand in the ground clear to your elbow. Of course it got my attention.

In the ’90s, in Iowa, there was somebody who grew 400- to 500-bushel corn. That really opened up the doors to say that there’s much more potential.

This is why I find it offensive when people say, “How are we going to feed all these people?”

I say, “Forty percent of our corn goes into making ethanol, and we have the capability to double our yields. And we can do it with a cleaner method of farming.” It’s not that we can’t produce more food. And most people don’t even eat corn and beans. We can do a lot of things if we want to feed people. I think that conventional agriculture, or whatever you want to call it— modern agriculture—is shifting to a biological farming system.

2022-02-08T18:58:05-05:00February 10th, 2022|Tags: , , , |

Propagating Velvetleaf

Velvetleaf thrives in soil where unhealthy anaerobic fermentation produces ethane and methane.

Or, stated in a different way, soils where unhealthy decay/fermentation products have been applied.

One of the more effective ways to grow abundant velvet leaf is to flush wash water/waste water with strong antimicrobial cleaners into a liquid manure pit, then apply the liquid manure to the field.

A liquid manure pit mistreated with chemical cleaners becomes a smelly, stinky mess where manure does not digest and breakdown in a healthy way. A mismanaged manure pit will form a crust on top, and undecomposed sludge on the bottom.

Well digested liquid manure can be a valuable resource that smells good (or not at all), doesn’t stink, has no sludge or crust, and enhances healthy biology when added to soil.

This type of liquid manure does not stimulate velvet leaf growth because it does not add toxins to the soils.

The solution is to remove the cleaners from the manure pit, and add microbial inoculants that can speed up the conversion of the liquid manure to a liquid gold microbial tea.

When we change our manure management velvetleaf disappears from the landscape because the soil is no longer the environment it requires. You can read about how to change your manure quality here.

2022-02-16T07:39:40-05:00February 9th, 2022|Tags: , |

Stones of the field, minerals of the soil

At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the beasts of the earth. For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. ~ Job 5:22-23

Some other translations read “you shall have a covenant with the stones of the field”

What does it mean to be in league or covenant with the stones of the field?

Why would aligning with the stones of the field result in immunity to destruction and famine?

We know that stones influence and guide ground currents across the landscape. Medicine wheels and other arrangements of stones can produce a markedly positive effect on the local climate and crops by producing energy vortices or ‘acupuncture points’ for the earths naturally occurring ground currents.

However, when you dig deeper, the original Hebrew can also be translated as “you shall be in league with the minerals of the soil”.

And at once, the connection becomes clear. We know that soils containing abundant and balanced mineral nutrition produce crops that are resistant to diseases, are not consumed by insects, and produce healthy livestock which are immune to parasites, in addition to a list of other positive health attributes to long to mention.

Are you in league with the minerals of the soil?

2022-02-02T07:40:58-05:00February 8th, 2022|

Frost patterns expressing plant signatures

I have observed varying frost patterns on frozen surfaces most of my life, but I don’t recall many instances where frost patterns reflected the living organisms in the local environment so well.

The first photo is an outside view of a glass window in a homestead greenhouse on a cold winter morning.

The second photo is a selection of the greens that were harvested inside that greenhouse that morning.

Which of the plants vascular systems matches with which window pane?

What do these observations tells about information and energy being shared and perceived?

What frost patterns or other energy patterns have you observed?

Thanks to Nigel Palmer for sharing the photos.

2022-02-02T13:47:32-05:00February 7th, 2022|Tags: |

Farming from the soil up, or from the sun down?

Ecosystems are regenerated through the agency of plants, capturing energy from the sun and transferring it down into the soil.

Plants are the primary collectors of energy. They are the only way we have of bringing new energy into an ecosystem.

All other organisms simply convert the energy captured from photosynthesis.

Livestock are not the foundational organism to regenerating soil and ecosystems.

Fungi are not the foundational organism to regenerating soil. Neither are bacteria. Or actinomycetes, protozoa, or any other organism. 

These other organisms can be managed to develop an environment where plant energy collection jumps dramatically. Or they can be mismanaged in such a manner that photosynthesis declines in the landscape.

Optimizing sunlight capture increases yields and unavoidably results in regenerating landscapes.

Optimizing soil fertility to increase yields may or may not regenerate agricultural landscapes. With the approach being used in contemporary agriculture, the effect on landscapes has been negative, not positive.

Are you managing for most efficient sunlight capture?

Are you managing to optimize soil function, or sunlight capture?

2022-02-02T05:59:06-05:00February 4th, 2022|

A qualified opinion

“I’m not entitled to have an opinion unless I can state the arguments against my position better than the people who are in opposition. I think that I am qualified to speak only when I’ve reached that state.” ~ Charlie Munger

Propagating fear and division among family and friends does not serve us. It may serve someone, but it does not serve you, or I, or the good of community.

Perhaps we see this more clearly than before in this contemporary environment of  polarizing opinions, so strongly held they  divide families and communities.

Divisive opinions grew with Trump, transferred to a virus, and became ever more entrenched.

Collectively, we are tiring of the division, and ready to put it behind us. “Lets move on” is the prevailing sentiment.

It seems to me we should learn from this experience, particularly in the regenerative agriculture space.

We have the benefit of having a lot of facts and science in support of regenerative agriculture. There are also many facts and science that can be marshaled by advocates of contemporary agriculture.

Frequently, those with different perspectives are not even describing the same things, or discussing the same ideas, since they approach the discussion from very different world views.

What are the beliefs you have very strong opinions about? These might be beliefs about the usefulness of GMO’s, the benefits of anhydrous ammonia, the effectiveness of glyphosate,  the value of cover crops, the use of phosphorus fertilizers, etc. etc. etc.

How well can you articulate the opposing point of view?

Your ability to articulate the opposing point of view is likely to correspond to your level of empathy for those who hold a different view.  You now understand their perspective, even though you may not agree with it.

Developing empathy with those who hold a different point of view is a foundational requirement if we wish to intervene and facilitate a shift in perspective.

If you think glyphosate is great, or glyphosate is damaging, is your opinion a qualified one? Or are you depending on the opinions of others?

Asking ourselves and our colleagues to develop qualified opinions or acknowledge when our opinion is not yet qualified, can bring about a deeper understanding and openness with each other.

What are you qualified to have an opinion about?

2022-02-01T13:20:14-05:00February 2nd, 2022|Tags: |

Photosynthesis is not a ‘constant’

Photosynthesis does not occur at a constant rate of speed. It varies from moment to moment dependent on the availability of light, carbon dioxide, water, temperature, chlorophyll concentrations, plant nutrition and genetics. This seems obvious on the surface, yet is almost always missed during research.

We understand that limitations on water, or nitrogen, or temperature extremes can have a pronounced impact on photosynthesis and consequently on plant growth and yield.

In contrast to this ‘downside potential’ of photosynthesis limitations, there is also an ‘upside potential’.

When environment and nutrition is optimized, plants can photosynthesize much more rapidly than what is ‘common’ or ‘normal’ (depending on how you define normal).

An extreme example is tomato production in greenhouses in the Netherlands, where yields are reaching up to 100 kg per square meter, equal to 890,000 lbs per acre. (No, that is not a typo, and it does not include an accidental additional zero.) Field grown fresh market tomato yields in the US range from 30,000 to 50,000 lb per acre, or about 6% of the yields in the greenhouses. To produce those results, lighting, CO2, and nutrition are all being managed very tightly.

This perspective on managing photosynthesis is very valuable when we think about how to increase yields and crop performance, and is often overlooked.

Very importantly, photosynthetic variability is completely overlooked in carbon sequestration research.

Research reports that this or that ecosystem can sequester xx amount of carbon. Grasslands at a certain level, forests at a certain level, farmland at a certain level.

The research, and the predictions coming from that research, contain the flawed assumption that the rate of photosynthesis is a constant from season to season.

Some fields/regions will photosynthesize less and sequester less carbon than the research indicates, because of a challenged environment.

Some fields and regions have the capacity to photosynthesize and sequester carbon at rates multiples higher than the research indicates.

As photosynthesis varies, so does root exudation, carbohydrate partitioning, disease resistance, insect resistance, crop response to microbial inoculants, fertilizers, and sprays.

All research evaluating the performance of products or practices on crops should contain the parameter, “what was the rate of photosynthesis in the plants contained in the study?” When this highly variable parameter is ignored, research does not translate consistently to other fields and farms.

Early potato tuber set

This root system developed in 14 days after planting.

How many tubers do you suppose this potato plant can set in the first two sets and bring to full size at maturity?

The answer is: 20-30+, depending on the variety.

The first tuber set occurs much earlier than many expect, and can occur as early as 10-14 days after planting.

If a goal is to produce large numbers of tubers in a condensed early set, it is important to use products that drive reproduction rather than vegetative growth at planting.

These potatoes had a complete planter solution in the furrow that included Rejuvenate and Accelerate, and a foliar with Accelerate soon after emergence.

How much calcium do you think this root system can move into the tubers?

2021-07-30T10:39:52-05:00August 2nd, 2021|Tags: , , , , , |


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