Soil, water, and sunlight. It is from these resources that all life develops. It is also from these resources that farmers and ranchers make their living. How we take care of each of these defines our operation.
It is our belief that we need to regenerate our landscapes in order for both our and future generations to be sustainable. Cover crops, zero-till, crop and livestock diversity, and high density grazing are all tools we use to improve these resources.
The soil beneath us is alive! There are more organisms in a teaspoonful of soil than there are people on earth. It is from this soil life that the nutrients needed to sustain higher forms of life (plants, animals, and people) are derived. If we were to till the soil it would destroy the habitat (home) for this soil life, thus we have not tilled for over 18 years. The misuse of chemical inputs (pesticides, chemical fertilizer and herbicides) is also detrimental to soil life. For this reason we do not use pesticides and have cut our use of chemical fertilizer by over ninety percent and our use of herbicides by over seventy percent. We are working hard to eliminate their use altogether.
Soil life also needs to be fed a balanced diet just like we do. On our operation we achieve this by growing a wide variety of crops from all four crop types (warm and cool season broadleaves and grasses). A highly diverse cropping strategy, which includes cover crops, keeps a living root in the soil as long as possible. This improves soil health and function by root exudates feeding soil life. These root exudates are also the building blocks for soil aggregates. It is the arrangement of these aggregates that are the pore spaces that allow water to infiltrate the soil profile.
Another key to improving soil health is keeping the ground covered at all times. This is achieved with both living cover crops and crop residues. These provide the “armor” to protect the soil from wind and water erosion. This armor also acts as a buffer to protect soil life from temperature extremes.
Soil is a biological system. Its health provides the nutrients we need to sustain life thus it must be the focus of our operation.