Earn the Right | From the Desk of Gary Zimmer

Here we go again. In your farming career, you have about 40 chances. You could do the same thing every year. Make money, make life easy, and get rich when you sell the farm. But farming is not just about the money and getting rich, it’s also about responsibility and pride. We want to do what’s right for the land, the environment, and the consumer. Obviously, we wouldn’t have to regenerate anything if it was all being done perfectly.

Two Keys

What I wish I would have known and understood 30 years ago (that’s when we started farming) was just two things: soil health and soil fertility. We have always said that biological farming is about doing everything you can to get the soil healthy and mineralized, but what does that exactly mean? For soil health, it’s biology. You need to take away negatives and create an ideal home while feeding the soil life. Excess manure, salt fertilizers, excess nitrogen – especially in one application, all the plant protective compounds, and weed control tools certainly don’t make the soils healthier. I have always said you need to earn the right not to use all those materials.

Healthy soils mean loose crumbly structure, water infiltrated, no crust on top yet minimally disturbed, living roots, plant diversity along with minerals made exchangeable. The trace minerals keep the crop healthy. NPK drive yields. Calcium and sulfur aid in soil structure and plant health. They also affect root development and mineral uptake – double your root and cut water and fertilizer in half.

Soil fertility is the exchange of nutrients and that means biology and plants bringing in and recycling minerals. Minerals are then in the carbon biological cycle are time-released and less likely to tie up, leach, and erode off your farm. Midwestern BioAg has been building fertilizers, both dry and liquid, that provide higher-quality balanced minerals and carbon supplied with them as food for biological activity and more efficient use of fertilizers. Over the years, we kept improving our mineral, carbon delivery system, the liquid with molasses as the base, and our TerraNu line using by-products of dairy manure as the base. Not only do they feed and stimulate biology in the soils but also promote root growth and plant health.

Earn the Right

I have used the phrase “earn the right.” The right is to not use all the intervention products, soluble fertilizers, and nitrogen. The problem is once you start down the biological farming road, how do you know when you can cut inputs? It does take testing on your farm as each one is different. You start using BioAg fertilizers, compost/manure, grow cover crops – rye works well after corn/beans. (You do need to learn how to manage the rye). You also minimize tillage, use shallow incorporation of residues and deep ripping as needed to work.

Now what? You are on a new path with new rules, and you are starting to “earn the right”. I didn’t mention livestock as they certainly do fit on many farmers not only the 5 benefits of manure, but the rotation with forages included. This company started working with mostly dairy farmers as you get paid twice – once for growing the crops and again when you feed them. Healthy mineralized soils produce healthy crops which lead to healthy productive livestock. Every farm is different all farms didn’t always follow the complete program.

Thanks much – hope you have a great growing season.