Absolutely. Great post. Thanks for finding this article, Pol.
I do have to say that I think the approach a little too reductionist for my liking, but I see the necessity.
I mean, if you want to rebuild soil fast, adjust pH, or affect the soil's water holding capacity in anything like an reasonable amount of time, sometimes you want to till amendments like organic matter and mineral grit into the top six inches.
I think, just like the mention of minimal spray, with a hope for no spray, minimal, rather than no-till, should be emphasized, if for nothing else than to keep doors open and to avoid alienating people that might think it too crazy for them to consider.
But overall, I found the article very informative, and it hits all the salient points, not only about regenerative farming, but about how it relates to making lives better for farmers.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Most of the originators of the regenerative movement forget to mention that the purpose of tilling is actually disturbance.
Disturbance is what nature uses to reset the natural progression of succession, so it isn't such a bad thing to do if you are using it for the right purpose.
If you have a field that has been left alone for several years and trees you don't really want are growing there, then a disturbance might be called for to reset that field from growing those particular trees.
If you have depleted soil you can speed up the regenerative process by doing a one time tillage, this will put into the soil all the organic material that you spread on the surface.
The effect is that you speed up the influx of organic matter, which then speeds up the growth of bacteria and fungi, and that is what we want to happen.
If I took two identical fields and never tilled one but instead grew a multi type plant cover crop and chopped and dropped this crop twice a year I could have great soil, 12 inches deep in around 4 years.
If I took that same field and once the covers were growing well, I added cattle to graze the field, moving them in a mob grazing pattern so they were one place only one or two days, I could get to that 12 inches of great soil in two or three years.
If I took the second field and grew the same cover crops and instead of cutting them to let them lay and rot I waited till they were near maximum height and density then tilled these under, I would reach that 12 inch deep great soil in 2 years or less.
If I did this tilling, replanted and repeated the once through tillage, I would be at the 12 inch great soil at the end of the second tilling. I would then come back with plantings of what I wanted to grow there, in alleyways with trees defining the alleys.
At this point I have, in two years, reached the level it took Gabe Brown and Mark Shepard 4 years and more to achieve using no till methods, so I have reduced the wait time for great soil by doing one tilling per year for two growing seasons.
Now I never have to till again, unless I want to completely change the succession plants from what I started.
I don't have to worry about pH, the plants I grow will be able to make those changes for me, I will have soil with plenty of fungi and bacteria growing in it to feed the plants I sew by broadcasting them on the surface too.
If I take this twice tilled field and now add cattle grazing in a mob situation, I triple the effectiveness of the system and my soil gets richer, faster, just like the no till field will get to in another two years.
Diversity is the key element that nature uses to grow all the greenery on her skin, by understanding how she uses diversity and disturbance, we can set lands up to grow what we want and maintain soil nutrient levels far easier and higher than the farmer who follows the "modern methods".
Tilling is not something that is great to use every year, it does have a place but it isn't used the way most farmers use it, we use tilling to enhance and add to the soil, then we leave it to do the things soil likes to do which is grow a wonderful microbiome that feeds all the organisms that call soil home.
What we end up with is a fully sustainable soil where we can grow foods, harvest those foods and replenish the soil nutrients without any extra expense on our part.
If we should ever find evidence that our great soil is or might be missing some elements for nutrition, we just spread them on the soil then run the mower through for a chop and drop cover over our just spread goodies.
We have reached the point where this kind of farming can no longer be dismissed as fringe or at odds with scientific truth. All the proof we need is right there in front of us.
The farmer they're quoting is just 15 years behind Gabe Brown, Ray Archaletta and Joel Salatin (and others), but he's made the transition to cover-cropping and no-till. While his farmer neighbors may talk about him down at the grain elevator or the cafe in town, the truth is that his operation will be more profitable and his soil will steadily become more and more fertile, while their operations will be increasingly less profitable and their soil less fertile. 15 years from now, they'll realize that they need to make the same transition to new management techniques.
Its going to take a generation, but there is no way that those who have made this transition to regenerative farming will ever go back. Others will adopt these practices for themselves, or they'll go out of business. In 20 years, the talk down at the elevator will be "Look at old Joe, who still tills his soil every year and still farms like it's 1999, while his soil gets worse and worse every year. Poor old sap."
Thank you for sharing this. My hope is that 1000 such articles will published in the next few years, all telling this same story: I used to till and fight nature, but now I've changed my methods and look how much better it is for the planet and for my bank account.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
Good Point Marco, the farmers I've worked with that stuck to the methods now make money every year and most of them have converted all their fields (most started with just a couple of 250 acre fields as a trial basis) to feeding soil instead of growing plants.
When we focus on the soil and work to make it better, the plants just naturally get better and you use so much less fuel and no chemicals that the money you spent on those things in the past becomes instant profit.
One of my clients said "thank you for showing me better ways to farm my family land", that was not only wonderful to hear but a blessing as well since his family had been farming that land for over 130 years.