The Best Way to Farm?

April 15, 2024

After many years of working as a soil and crop consultant, it is becoming abundantly clearer to me that we, as caretakers of the land, know very little of what there is to know about soil and how it is actually meant to function.

At the same time, we often come to the table with preconceived ideas about how farming should actually be done. For some, this is the organic method, because of less chemical inputs. There are many studies that are showing the dangers of Roundup and other harsh chemicals, and how they are affecting the health of the soil, plants, animals, and humans. These studies justify the organic approach to farming. Yes, we know, we do use tillage and that is perhaps not always good, but at least we don’t use the harsh chemicals.

For others, the conventional way of farming is definitely better. Less weeds. And the ability to practice no-till. Yes, we know, some of this talk about chemicals not being good for the soil and animals is a little confusing, but hey, tillage is hard on the soil too, right?

And so we justify our approach.

Let’s face it — there are pros and cons to both the organic and conventional method. Generally speaking, too much tillage is being done in organic and too many chemicals being used in a conventional setting.

Should we suggest that each can be okay if used in moderation? Be the best that you can be. Build on the strength of your system and work on eliminating the weakness.

For organic growers, recognize that tillage is hard on the soil structure and that it disturbs the soil life. So this means eliminating or reducing tillage whenever possible. Be as gentle as you can. Get another crop planted as soon as possible. Work on rebuilding the biology. Use cover crops.

For conventional growers, use softer chemicals and/or apply the chemicals more effectively. Roundup rates can be greatly reduced when reducing the water to 3 pH before adding the Roundup to the spray tank. HyperCaP has been shown to be very effective—not only does it reduce the pH of the water, but the nitrogen and calcium also drag the roundup into the plant more effectively.

The goal in regenerative agriculture is to rebuild the ecosystem, doing whatever is needed to help along, as opposed to either the organic or conventional method.

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Source: Melvin Fisher | Sponsored by Keystone Bio-Ag LLC