In Burt County this summer, rows and rows of identical corn fields painted a familiar and quintessentially Nebraska landscape — until you reached a quarter of an acre of land teeming with a diversity of crops near Lyons, about 70 miles northwest of Omaha.
12-year-old Evelyn, who did not share her last name for privacy, crouched down in a small patch of budding plants on a Saturday morning in June. With pale blue plastic gloves on her hands, she yanked weeds out of the earth and left the varied leafy crops between them rooted.
“We’re looking for the ones that are thicker,” Evelyn said in Spanish. She was among 14 other youth and adults of Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim in the field separating invasive weeds from budding vegetables for the First Acre Milpa summer program.
Read more at El Perico
When I quit my high-profile job at the University of Massachusetts 30 years ago and came home to farm in Nebraska, I started growing corn and alfalfa, relying on lots of inputs to maximize my yields. It didn’t take long for me to get disillusioned with high-input, chemical-based farming: After I paid all my bills, there was rarely any profit left for me.
Everyone talks about farming as a lifestyle. That may be true, but farming is a business first: If you want to keep doing it, you have to make a profit. Bankers don’t care how many bushels you produce. They want to be paid in dollars. They also want to see that your business is profitable!
My profits improved the first year I began farming regeneratively and organically. I’ve found that the key to maximizing profitability is to reduce or even eliminate inputs, and then add value on the marketing end. Not only are my seed costs lower than conventional GMO seed costs, I’m also immune to all the outrageous fertilizer prices — which are now three to four times higher than what they were a couple years ago. I haven’t purchased any chemicals or commercial fertilizers in over 20 years. My cattle graze year-round and are integrated into my cropping system using an Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) system. This symbiotic relationship improves soil health and fertility. Using these practices, I’ve been able to increase the soil organic matter on my crop fields from 1.5% to over 6%.
Read more at Progressive Farmer
Agriculture accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to chemical contamination of water resources, but it is uniquely situated to be part of the solution. Agriculture can provide effective actions to mitigate climate change, reduce its impacts and improve water quality while increasing productivity. And the key lies in the soil under our feet.
Effective actions revolve around making sure soil is healthy and alive. When soil has depleted topsoil or little humus, few worms or fungi and other microorganisms, lacking texture and structure, it is no longer an organized living ecosystem. Over years of customary farming practices, most soils have lost organic matter, surface armor, ability to absorb heavy rains and shifted and depleted their biological diversity.
Read more at the Omaha World-Herald
“Just as the soil is itself under threat, so is the Nebraska way of life. It seems there is nothing left for these industrial ag corporations to take but our souls.” — The RegeNEration Proclamation
As a Nebraskan attending college in the northeast, I am often faced with questions like “Where even is Nebraska?” and “What’s notable about Nebraska?” I usually give them the spiel about the College World Series, Warren Buffett, perhaps the Reuben sandwich and, if I’m lucky, I can convince them that I drove a tractor to high school.
Of course, I can’t talk about Nebraska without mentioning the abundance of corn after which our state is nicknamed. But what will we name our football team when climate change-caused drought and wildfires strip our state of viable topsoil and, consequently, the golden corn we grow? Climate change is already affecting Nebraska growers. It’s past time for our farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture practices.
Read more at the Omaha World-Herald
For the last generation, sustainability has been the buzzword around agriculture. Now, a growing chorus is calling for a focus on “agricultural regeneration.” It’s about reclaiming the health of the soil, making our regions more food independent, and keeping our young people on the land, said Graham Christensen, the president of GC Resolve who lives near Oakland.
GC Resolve is a communication and consulting company that is working to build resilient communities. Its focus is on environmentally and economically sound principles related to agricultural production.
They emphasize erosion control, on-farm fertility, re-establishment of local & regional markets for increased food security, soil health and reduction of carbon dioxide and nitrate greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s also about generating greater opportunities for young people to get into farming. As the average age of farm operators increases, and land is auctioned to the highest bidder, more and more ownership is transitioning to large corporations, including foreign investors, Christensen said. That is not in the best interest of our national security, or of the younger generation, he said.
Click to read article in North Platte Telegraph!
BLADEN, NEBRASKA (March 30, 2022) – Green Cover announced today the expansion of the First Acre program designed to showcase the value of crop diversity in soil health and the health of the planet, all while giving back to local communities. The expanded program moves from a regional Midwest initiative to a nationwide program seeking to enroll hundreds of farmers across the United States in growing a milpa garden, based on the Maya tradition of the milpa production cycle. The expanded initiative is done in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Syngenta Seeds, the Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim and RegeNErate Nebraska.
Click to read the article at Green Cover!