Resilient Agriculture


The Future of Resilient Agriculture

Beautiful pastured poultry following beautiful pasture cattle.

McIntyre Family Farms – where happy birds follow happy pigs and cattle, eating bugs, spreading fertilizer, and moving about each day. Happy beasts just taste better. These beasts live a great life then get one bad day.  Natalie Fleming endorses McIntryre farms.

Natalie Fleming knows Restorative Agriculture is the future of feeding the world while restoring ecosystems. Restorative Agriculture means we can feed the masses without guilt and actually improve the ecosystems at the same time.  Farmers who practice forms of Restorative Agriculture develop resilient farmland. Educated farmers have learned how to apply research into using restorative farming practices, restorative ecology, holistic management and other key methods that not only provide wonderful use of our lands, nutrient-dense foods, provides better care of our earth and animals, but also provides the healthiest harvests imaginable, all while reducing chemical use and runoff, protecting and using our resources. Restorative agriculture creates lands that are drought resilient, flood resilient, fire resilient, pest-resilient, rebuild our topsoil and no longer requires expensive subsidies. The cost is less to our nation, the benefits are incredible. Natalie Fleming believes that proper care of our lands and animals is better for our future as well as our present.  We need to protect farmers, their life, and their livelihoods as we make the transition. The best part is that farmers who make the transition face fewer hardships as their land becomes resilient.

No-Till Agriculture

Mark Shepards no-till field alley-crop between rows of productive trees.
Mark Shepards no-till field alley-crop between rows of productive trees.

The last crop is crushed down and the new crop seeded in with the protection of crop residue.  The land is never left bare. This protects the little critters and fungi in the soil that eat tiny rocks making the nutrients available to the crops.  The soil keeps its structure, the topsoil deepens every year. There is very limited runoff keeping our streams, rivers, and oceans clean. No-till cropland retains its water for many months into what should be drought. While their neighbors dry up, no-till farmers enjoy green drought-resistant, fire-resistant land.

Mark Shepard’s neighbor’s tilled soil running off. Bye Bye nutrients. Bye soil.

With traditional conventional agriculture, bare land washes out each spring after planting. Precious topsoil and all those expensive sprayed on chemicals just run off into the streams and rivers and eventually into the Ocean.

Alley Cropping

Harvesting wheat between rows of trees.
Photo credit: European Agroforestry Federation

Rows of crops or pasture are planted and harvested between rows of trees.  Trees provide dappled sunlight and protection against winds and extreme temperatures.  This creates a pleasant Savanah type grazing area for livestock on even the hottest days.  Crops between rows of trees can continue photosynthesis during the hottest part of the day when photosynthesis usually shuts down.

Major #farmergradschool moment today! Kevin Wolz of the Savanna Institute showed me around the Restinclières agroforestry site near Montpellier where we were able to bask in the glory of an established alley cropping system. I’ll repeat what Kevin says in the video for those of you in the back: NO yield reductions for the barley or the walnuts! That’s the beauty of #agroforestry combinations like this — the synergy of the crops and trees in fact means a higher overall yield of timber and grain compared to simple (fragile) monocultures. #Agroforestry is one way we’re going to save our air, water, soils and rural communities in the Upper Midwest along with filling our bellies. I’m convinced of it. Make sure you’re following the Savanna Institute’s work…big things are happening.

Posted by Nettle Valley Farm on Sunday, March 25, 2018
Nettle Valley Farm Alley Cropping System

Silvopasture

Cattle grazing in forest.
Mark Shepard’s happy cows just taste better. New Forest Farm

Natalie loves happy beasts, and beasts just love grazing in the shade. Silvopasture combines forestry with grazing livestock.  The livestock benefits from the dappled sunlight and grazes for longer on what would have been a hot day, graze for longer, and grow delicious faster.  These happy cows have a great life. Their farmer moves them to fresh pasture each day along his farm. The trees, perennial shrubs, and grasses cool the earth lowering the dew point. Without the dappled sunlight, photosynthesis usually shuts down in the hottest part of the day.  In Silvopastures photosynthesis continues as it’s cooler and plant growth continues. As the beasts are moved every day, they are never in their poo and they do not return to that piece of land until after full grazing recovery, just as in the wild. This three dimensional growing system grows far more calories and nutrients per acre and uses the land year-round.

Bare tilled farmland.
Bare land wasting photosynthesis during winter and killing soil critters.. We need to keep the ground covered with plants at all times.

The Most Important Soil picture ever

We don’t have the license to use the most important picture ever, so please, please, please click this link to the US Botanical Garden to see a profound picture of a guy holding up roots, that can change the direction of all agriculture in the future.  Ask yourself, which side of the picture will burn? Which side of the picture will retain water and resist drought? Which side will have water runoff?  Which side sustains life? Here is my explanation of how these roots make a difference. Look at Jim’s picture of Dr. Jerry Glover standing before his roots.  Both crops are wheat. The wheat on the left is perennial. (it lives year after year). The wheat on the right is annual. (it dies after one year and must be replanted.)  When the heavy rains come, the water will run off the soil of the wheat on the right and may wash off some wheat with it. When the heavy rains come, the water will soak into the wheat on the left, saving precious moisture for the dry season and preventing flooding. Should a real flood come in, the wheat on the left will survive while the wheat on the right will be completely destroyed.  It’s time to change, and we can.

Holistic Land Management

holistically Managed Land
The land on the right supports more livestock than the left. Both fields receive the same rainfall. The livestock on the right is kept together and moved about ensuring that pasture grasses recover in careful pasture management. The livestock on the left is left to range and overgraze the entire property full time. Photo by Allan Savory

We have the knowledge and ability now to restore our lands through regenerative forest management, managed rotational livestock grazing, restoring biodiversity and clearing the overgrowth. Let’s get the bureaucracy and PACs out of the equation and allow Americans to take back America. Americans can choose to place our lands on the path of renewal to the beautiful rich land of our fore-parents. Natalie Fleming believes in returning public lands to state and private, responsible ownership.

Nat Knows: Nat asked a group of farmers and ranchers who are practitioners of these methods, how much help a farmer or rancher would need from the Feds to make the transition. “Nothing. We make a profit in the first year. We don’t need any government help.” Typical independent attitudes.   When have you ever heard the words “Farming” and “Profit” in the same sentence? Nat believes these food production systems and land management systems will bring down the costs in farm subsidies, end the destructive pest/drought/flood/fire cycles, increase nutrient density, secure our nation’s food supply, and bless our nation. So whether or not our farmers and ranchers want it or need it, we should allow a tax sabbatical for a period of 4 years for any farmer or rancher brave enough to make the transition. This transitional tax deduction will save taxpayer dollars and motivate those scratching their heads in indecision to make the brave jump. Natalie gets it.

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Nat’s favorite religious article discussing our sacred duty to all of creation.

The Unsinkable Gabe Brown!

This guy grazes his cattle in DECEMBER in North Dakota! Farmer Gabe Brown teaches Farmers how to work with nature producing bountiful crops in challenging ecosystems.

The Story of Dairy – The best dairy people.

Wonderful Dairy Farmers who use holistic management and healthy grazing plans to produce rich milk and topsoil that “Looks like potting soil.”

Soil Critters Matter!

Soil Biologist Elaine Ingham teaches how to take care of the critters in our soil that mine the soil for minerals living symbiotically with the plants. Kill the soil critters, and you have to spray on fertilizer.

Mycorrhizal Fungi run the Largest Mining Operation in the World

Sheer Total Utter Neglect as a Farming Model

How Mark Shephard’s Farm THRIVES under Sheer, Total Utter Neglect (STUN method)

Greg Judy the Grazemaster!

Rancher Greg Judy reaches how to heal the land, improve the soil, and make a PROFIT. Greg started with nothing, and now has all his farm and livestock paid off.

Darren at the Beach, teaching keyline design.

Darren Doherty teaches simple ways to keep the rainfall where it drops feeding the soil, land, and farm for as long as possible restoring water cycles. Basically, Darren’s a beaver on two legs.

Zach Weiss, the two-legged beaver and Water Retention Landscapes.

Water Retention Landscapes by Zach Weiss – this guy terraforms the earth! Zach’s land structures will water the earth for centuries.

A New Mexico Ranch Recovers during a drought through Holistic Land Management

Happy healthy Treasure Valley turkeys fattening on Treasure Valley pasture for Thanksgiving

The horticulture industry’s age problem is bigger than you think.

Intermediate tree cover can maximize groundwater recharge in the seasonally dry tropics

Slave labor in Mexico Bringing the US Produce