Managing for Soil Health when Raising Potatoes – A Farmer’s Perspective

Webinar moderator is David Lamm. David is the leader of
the National Soil Health and Sustainability team here in
Greensboro at our East National Technology Support Center. And with that, David, I’m
going to turn the webinar over to you so you can introduce
the topic and the presenter. OK, Holli, I appreciate that. And I want to extend
my welcome out to everybody that’s
decided to join in on this hot and sunny
day here in Greensboro. I’m assuming it’s about the
same across the country. I think we’re in
for a real treat today with Brendon’s
presentation. I had the privilege of meeting
Brendon Rockey at the National Conference on Cover Crops
and Soil Health that was held last February, and
was very impressed with what we were able to
discuss there, and lead to getting him involved with our
cover crop or our soil health series. This is the seventh out of
the eight webinars in our soil health series for
2014, with the next one in August on soil health on
organic farms from a farmer’s perspective. And Klaus Martin will
be presenting that one. But today let me just do a real
brief introduction of Brendon. I asked him how long
he’s been farming. He says he doesn’t know
when a starting date was. He’s always been on his
grandpa’s farm which was founded back in 1938 in
the San Luis Valley there in Colorado. He raises potatoes,
which I think is one of the intriguing
things about– here we think about soil health. We talk about disturbance
and stresses on the soil. And nothing, no crop can disturb
the soil more than potatoes, except maybe peanuts. But anyway, Brendon’s
going to talk about how he improves his
soil healthy in a system that we would think would be
very disturbing to the soil health. He’s a graduate of
Colorado State University with a degree in horticulture. And I guess Brendon,
I think I’m just going to turn it over
to you after that. And one quick reminder, folks. We’re going to take questions
at the end of the presentation. Be typing them in the
Q&A block up there in the corner as we go along,
and I’ll be consolidating them and asking Brendon
questions at the end. But we do want to hold questions
until the end of Brendon’s presentation today. And Brendon, take it away. All right. Thanks for the introduction. I was kind of scrolling through
the names there on the right, and I recognized a
few of those names. So I appreciate you guys
that are coming back to listen to me again. I’m glad I didn’t
bore you too bad the first time you heard me. I’m going to give you
just a little history here on our farm. Like Dave mentioned,
it was started in 1938 by my grandpa Floyd Rockey. We do everything at
our place a little bit differently, including
the varieties we raise. You won’t find any russet
potatoes on our farm. We do all specialty potatoes. We do a lot of red,
yellow, purple potatoes. And we were the first one
to bring fingerling potatoes into the country as well. We do some Fresh Market
packaging of the fingerlings. We have our own packaging shed. And we also do a lot of
certified potato seed as well. We are on a two year
rotation, so we’ve got 500 acres of
farm ground total. And out of every year,
about half of that is going to be
potato production. And then the rest
will be green manure, which we’ll get
into quite a bit. We are technically
farming in a desert, so everything is irrigated. We get less than six inches
of annual precip a year, so that’s not near enough
to grow a potato crop. And we are farming at
7,600 foot elevation, which is pretty interesting as well. Now I did mention my
grandpa started the farm. And a lot of what I’m
going to talk about today, a lot of people want
to give me credit for what we’ve done here
with our soil health. But what it really is is it
goes back to a philosophy that I was raised with, going
back to what my grandpa always told us growing up. And he truly believed that you
have to take care of the soil before the soil can
take care of you, and I think that’s something
that we’ve kind of gotten away from in agricultural. We’ve forgotten
all about the soil and we just care about the
plant and the crop now. So that’s one thing we’ve
started coming back around to. Now like Dave mentioned,
we are potato farmers, so that’s going to
be the focus of what I’m talking about here today. But keep in mind, a lot of the
fundamentals and principles that I’m talking about
here are universal, and they can be applied to
any crop grown in agriculture. And a lot of what
I’ve learned has been from guys growing other
crops in completely different situations, but the
fundamentals are all going to be very similar. So here’s a picture of
a purple viking potato that we raised
here, and it’s going to be the focus of
what I’m talking about. Now no matter how you’re
raising this potato crop, there’s always going to be
certain issues that we’re faced with when
raising this crop. We’re going to have insect
pressure, weed pressure, parasitic nematodes, fertility
issues, soil borne and foliar diseases, and then
water as well. And no matter what
your approach is, all of these inputs
or all these factors can have a direct impact
on the potato crop itself. So it’s something that we’re
going to have to address. But here’s where
things get a little bit different on our farm is how
we approach these problems. In conventional agriculture,
I think most of the time that we’re trying to deal
with these problems it tends to be a very linear approach. And what I mean by that is
when we have something that’s directly impacting
the potato crop, we try to deal with
that problem first hand. So in a lot of cases you’ll
see a very common theme here is cides are often used. And what that means
is you’re going in and trying to kill
the problem off. And what we’ve tried
to do on our places, we’re trying to get away
from killing off our problems and actually bringing
in life to start controlling our problems for us. So a lot of people
hear me talking about not using
these different cides and not trying to
kill things off, so they assume that
we are organic. So one thing I want
to clear up right away is we are not certified organic. It’s something that just really
doesn’t fit our production model. But we definitely aren’t
on the conventional side, as far as the fertility
and the chemical use goes. So I’ve actually had to
come up with a new term to kind of define what it
is, how we are farming. And this is the best
I can come up with. I really liked the
term biotic farming, and here’s how I defined it. I consider it to be an
agro-ecological approach that nurtures the relationships
between all living and nonliving components
of the complete system. I really feel like
this encompasses what we are trying
to do on our farm. So when you start talking
about biotic farming, it really disrupts
the linear approach that we have been taking in
conventional agriculture, because there’s these
other components that we have to take
into consideration such as predatory insects,
carbon, the beneficial life in the soil, soil structure, and
the beneficial life on the crop itself. So as we start taking
that linear approach, the conventional
agriculture tries to take– you can see
how when you start looking at the big picture
and really taking a step back, that linear approach
becomes much more difficult. So one good example
would be insect pressure. In potato crops,
aphids are a big issue, especially in certified
seed, because they can transmit the virus from
one plant, a diseased plant to a healthy plant,
and infect it. So we all are concerned
about insects. But in conventional agriculture,
usually the approach is you have a pest out
there causing problems, so let’s go in
with an insecticide and try to kill the problem. But what we need to do is,
like I said, take a step back. And when you start looking
at the big picture, you start to realize
that you can actually create other problems when
you take this approach. For example, you might be
killing off a predatory insect population in your field which
was actually helping control that pest population
to begin with. And a lot of people
think, well, there’s different insecticides
out there that only attack the pest insects. They won’t kill off
the predatory insects. But one of the
problems with that is when you remove
the food source, you’re going to starve off the
predatory insect population as well, so you don’t have
that defense mechanism in place to help control those
outbreaks of pests. But the other thing
is I think it’s pretty easy to see how you
could disrupt this system here by killing off the predators. But we have to keep in mind
that these insecticides are also very damaging to a lot
of the other insects that are down in the soil
as well, which all play a certain role
in the complete system and are very beneficial if
everything is in balance. So I think one of the biggest
problems that we face in potato production especially is the
overuse of fungicides and soil fumigants. And once again,
we have a disease that might be thriving
on a potato plant or down in the roots
system, causing us problems. So our initial response
is, well, let’s go out and kill the problem,
because then we won’t have to deal
with it anymore. Now I’m not going to argue
that these fungicides don’t do a really good
job of killing off these specific
diseases at first. But that’s where we start
running into trouble is you start
developing resistance to these different
chemicals, and they lose effectiveness
as time goes on. But like I said, once we
look at the biotic system and how everything
functions together, we need to keep in mind that
these fungicides can also be very damaging to a lot of
the beneficial fungi that thrive in the soil and on
the plants themselves. And a lot of these fungi that
are thriving in the plant and in the soil
are actually really good at controlling those
diseases for us to begin with. But once we go in and start
attacking the one fungi that’s causing us trouble, we’re
killing off all the good stuff as well. We’re throwing everything
completely out of balance. Now you’re actually
more susceptible and more prone to being overrun
with these fungal pathogens. So a lot of times we’re
creating our own problems and we are our own worst enemy. And another really good example
of that is parasitic nematodes. One thing I really noticed
in potato production in the valley– and I think
other areas would agree with this– but where
we’re seeing the worst outbreaks of parasitic
nematodes in the soil now are in areas where soil
fumigants and fungicides have been overused. I think a lot of
time people have trouble making the connection
between a fungicide, which is killing off a fungi,
and what impact that might have on
parasitic nematodes, because that’s a little
worm-like creature in the soil, and they’re not related at all. And the fungicide isn’t killing
off the nematodes itself. But what’s going on
is there’s actually tons of beneficial fungi
that thrive in the soil. They can actually trap and
kill these nematodes for us. And before we were using
these harsh fungicides, we had these natural
populations out there that we’re doing a really
good job of controlling those nematodes for us. So here we come in trying
to control a fungal pathogen with these fungicides. We’re killing off all these
beneficial fungi as well. Now we’ve created this
opportunity for the nematodes to come into our
system and overrun us, and now they’re actually
getting to the point where they’re causing
economic damage in the system. So I just really
want to emphasize, I think one thing I’m
seeing over and over again is it seems like we are
the ones that are creating the problems that
we’re dealing with now. So we’re the ones
that are going to have to start solving these problems. So now we have a
parasitic nematode problem in our soil, which we
happened to create ourselves, but a lot of people don’t
want to recognize that. But now our approach is we have
this parasitic nematode causing trouble, so obviously
our approach is going to be to come in and
try to kill that nematode off. So now we’re going to
start using a nematicide. So here is another cide that has
come into our production model, trying to kill off our problem. But one thing we
need to keep in mind here is that there
are a lot of nematodes that thrive in the
soil that are actually very beneficial to the
plant and the soil, and actually can help control
other pest populations as well. And when we use
the nematicides, we might be wiping out these
beneficial populations as well. So out of all the
different species of nematodes that thrive in
our soil, less than 10% of them are actually parasitic, yet
they get all the attention and they’re the ones we’re going
out there and trying to kill. Fertility is an
interesting one as well. So this is one that it
doesn’t mean using a cide, doesn’t involve
killing off anything, but it has its own
detrimental effect as well. And when we start using
the NPK fertilizers, the inorganic fertilizers. Now these fertilizers
do a really good job of providing nutrient
directly to the plant, but the trouble we
start running into is it’s a very
inefficient system. These inorganic fertilizers
are water soluble, so they leach very easily. They’re also prone
to volatilization. So it’s a very
inefficient system. But when you start looking
at the biotic impact, the thing that comes along with
these inorganic fertilizers are high amounts of salts. And when we over apply
these salts to the soil, it actually creates
an environment that is not beneficial
to the life in the soil. So we can actually
start killing off a lot of this beneficial
life through the overuse of these inorganic fertilizers. So you’ll see the
beneficial soil biology in the middle of that slide
getting a lot of attention there. And it’s really kind of the
central hub around everything. But what we really
need to look at is not only the
life in the soil, but its relationship to
carbon and soil structure. You really need that
beneficial life in the soil to help break down
carbonous material that gets added to the soil,
such as plant residue. But also the carbon is very
important to feeding that life in the soil. It is the energy that
drives all life in the soil. So when our farming
practices are focused on inorganic
inputs, we are not having those carbon
inputs to help drive that life in the soil. And also the beneficial
life in the soil is very important for
creating aggregates in the soil, which leads
to better soil structure. And the carbon
itself can actually improve that soil
structure even further. And the reason the carbon and
soil structure is so important is they can have a huge
impact on our water, especially in our situation
with the irrigation. When you have poor
soil structure, you have very small,
tight pore spaces, so it’s actually
hard to get water into the soil to begin with. And then when you don’t
have the carbon in the soil, it does a very poor job
of holding onto that water once it gets into the soil. So here’s a problem
we used to have back when we had unhealthy soil. We had very little
life in the soil, we had poor aggregation,
very low soil structure. We actually used to bury our
center pivot every single year. And it’s something we used
to just accept as a fact. We used to blame the soil
parent material as the problem. It happened to be one
of our sandier soils. And we just accepted
the fact that we were going to bury that pivot. And we would go out
with our straw bales, which was just another Band-Aid. And we’d get that pivot
unstuck and get it around for the season. But one thing we’ve
started to notice is what impact we’ve had on
our soils in this problem here by bringing the
life back in the soil. So when it came time
to go get it, take a picture of a
pivot being buried, I couldn’t even go out
to our fields anymore to take this picture. So I had to go across the
road to the neighbor’s farm to show this situation. And the reason it’s important
to realize that this field is actually straight
across from ours is we thought it was
the parent material. But this field has the same
parent material as ours, and we’re not sinking our
pivots where they still are. But when I look at
the situation here, I see a lack of soil structure
and a lack of life in the soil. So now we have
poor soil structure and we have low
carbon in the soils. We actually end up
waterlogging our soil. When you have those small pore
spaces, when you irrigate, you lose the oxygen
that’s in the soil. So that actually create
an ideal environment for a lot of the pathogens
that thrive in the soil. Most of the pathogens that
attack potatoes are going to thrive in anaerobic
situations, so very little oxygen is what’s
actually creating the habitat where this
stuff will thrive. And the same goes for a
lot of the foliar diseases. A lot of times they occur when
you’re over watering a crop, the plant is wet real often. You remove the oxygen
from the system, and that’s when a
lot of these blights come in and overtake you. And then also it turns
out that weeds really thrive in waterlogged
soils as well. Weeds tend to really like
really stressed soil, and over watering can be
one of the situations that lead to that situation. And then since we’re on
the subject of weeds, there’s a lot of
other factors here that we’ve disturbed
that also create ideal environments
for weeds to thrive. There’s some really
good charts out there that actually can go
through and show you what soil situation
certain weeds like. And most of the time
most of the weeds we’re dealing with
in potatoes really like poor soil structure. They like tight soil. They thrive in soils with
low organic matter, which means they’re lacking in carbon. And a lot of times they
will show up in situations where there’s a fertility
imbalance, which comes in when you’re
trying to over apply inorganic fertilizers. So now we have a weed
problem, which we actually created ourselves. But now again, we’re going to
come in with the same approach that we’ve been taking
with everything else. We’re going to come
in with a herbicide and try to kill the weed off. Now there’s some
herbicides out there that do a great job on
killing certain weeds, but we also have to be
careful because this is one of the
cides that can have a direct impact on the
potato plant itself. If your timing is wrong, if
you pick the wrong chemicals, you can actually do a lot
of damage to the potato crop itself. Now at least when it
comes to weed pressure, we do have some options there. And mechanically
controlling weeds is a very viable option
in potato production. So we can actually till the
soil to control our weeds, but we have to be very
careful with this one as well because tillage
itself can be very damaging to soil health. It actually does
a really good job of removing carbon
from the soil. It can actually physically
break down the soil structure by that iron going
through the soil and breaking apart
those aggregates. And it can be very damaging
to the beneficial soil biology, particularly the
fungi that thrive in the soils. They have these long hyphae
that are very brittle, and it doesn’t take
much disturbance to really throw off
those populations. So this is where I feel
like we were, and this is about 20 years
ago that we really made this transition away
from this type of farming. Because I felt like we were
having all these problems. And when you started
thinking about it, every time we came
in and thought we were solving one problem,
it seemed like we ended up having more and more problems
rear their ugly heads, and it was actually a
result of our own doing. But what’s really
nice about this system here is we do have options,
and we have the ability to wipe the slate
clean and start fresh. But it’s really
important to recognize how we got into that
situation and how we were creating this
damage to begin with. So this is basically what
we did in our operation is we sat down and just
recognized where the damage was coming from. But we wanted to just
start cold turkey. We got rid of all
the negative impacts that we were having,
and we wanted to start building the soil. And the only way you
can really do this is with what we
call soil primers. And this is a term I stole
from Gabe and Paul Brown up in North Dakota, and I think
it’s a really fitting term. But what that means
is it’s anything that’s actually going to be
priming your soil for success. So here’s a list
of the soil primers that we’re using on
our farm that I’m going to be talking
about a little bit more. So we really use green manure
crops for our rotation crop, using some companion
cropping, which I’ll get into in greater detail. But all of our fertility
inputs are carbon-based, and then we’re also
adding diverse populations of known beneficial
bacteria and fungi to help support
this system for us. So when you start using
these soil primers, really the first thing
you’re really doing is supporting that
beneficial life in the soil, because that is really
where everything starts at. So a lot of these primers, I was
talking about those inoculates we were using, we’re
actually introducing biology that’s been
missing from our system because we’ve killed
a lot of it off. We’re bringing that life
back into the system. The green manure
crops just bringing in different plants with
different root zones are all helping build
that life in the soil. The other thing
that’s really critical here too is I mentioned
the carbon-based fertility and the green manures. It’s all about adding
carbon into the soil, because that is going
to be the energy that drives all of this
life in the soil. So now we have that
life in the soil and we have the
carbon to support it, now we actually start
building a strong relationship between these three components. It’s kind of like a
three legged stool. You start damaging one, it has
an impact on the other two. Now when you start
improving one of these, it improves the
other ones as well. For example, you have
the life in the soil now, which is really good at
taking little soil particles and gluing them
together and creating these aggregates, which
creates good soil structure. And as your soil
structure improves, now you have a
greater environment for that life in
the soil to thrive. So the two really feed
off of each other. And now you have the carbon
to help support that as well. And the carbon itself actually
improves your soil structure even further too. So this is one
thing we’ve really noticed on our farm is
just the tilth of the soil, how much it’s improved. It’s very loose,
light soil, and it’s improved a lot of
other factors as well. One of the biggest impact
that these had for us is our irrigations. Like I mentioned, we
are farming in a desert. We’ve been suffering
from a drought. So water is very critical to us. So anything we can do to help
save water is very important. And now that we have this
really strong soil structure, we have high carbon in our soil. I’m actually able to irrigate
fewer times per season, and I’m able to put less
water on pre-irrigation. The reason I can get away
with fewer irrigations is because I’ve got that
high carbon in the soil, so once the water
is in the soil, we’re holding onto
that water much better. And the reason I can get away
with less water pre-irrigation is because we have that
strong soil structure. We have really good pore space. So when I irrigate, the
water’s going to right down to the root zone,
right where it belongs. We don’t have water
running off the hills and out the edge of the field. So here’s my water
use since 2006. And I’ll explain this chart
to you a little bit here. So this is two full
circles that we farm. So we’ve got circle number
two and circle number three. Now the peaks at the top there
is when it’s a potato crop, and at the peaks
at the bottom is when we were growing
our green manure crop. So it kind of gives you a pretty
good idea of how much water we’re using every single
year to grow a potato crop. And we’ve used as little as
nine inches and up to 17 inches, because this is strictly
irrigation water. So we do get a little bit of
rain during the growing season, and this will
impact it somewhat. But as you can see, I would say
12 to 14 inches of irrigation each year is about what I need
to grow a successful potato crop. Now you talk to guys in the
valley that have a poor soil structure, very low carbon,
a lack of life in the soil, they claim that you
can’t grow a crop with less than 18 to 20 inches. So here you can see a huge
improvement in our water. And then we used to grow a
barley crop as our rotation, and we got away from
that for water saving. So here you can see I’m using
about five to six inches to grow a green manure
crop in rotation. So I’m averaging about
nine inches of irrigation on my farm across the entire
farm every single year, which is a significant
savings over what we used to be doing with
the different rotation and with poor soil health. So now if you remember that
picture I showed of that center pivot getting buried
all the way down, this field here shows what our
sprinkler tracks look like now. By improving that
soil structure, no longer are we making
huge ruts out in our field. And we’re actually to
the point now where at the end of the season,
the sprinkler’s still climbing over every
single potato row. And I think that’s really
important to keep in mind, just showing the value
of that soil structure. And if that soil
has enough strength to support the weight
of that sprinkler, that means that
those soil particles are getting compressed together,
being pushing all of the oxygen out of the soil when
you’re irrigating. We’re able to maintain
that soil structure throughout the entire season. So now that we’re able to
properly water our crops, now we don’t have plants
that are wet as often, so this has been
great for controlling early blight on the potatoes. We’ve seen a huge decrease
in soil borne pathogens, because a lot of
those pathogens really do well in over watered,
waterlogged soils. And it’s had an impact
on our weeds as well. We still have weed
pressure on our farm, but the species of weeds
that are driving in our soils now are much different. We don’t see the sunflowers
and thistles anymore, which are two weeks that tend
to thrive in waterlogged soils. Now we see more lamb’s
quarter and pig weed, which are both indicators
of very fertile, well drained soils. So some of the primers
we’re using, some of those inoculates we’re
using, also further our control of early blight just
because, for example, bacillus subtilis is one of those
species and one of those that does a really good
job out competing the disease on the plant itself. So we’re constantly
adding this diverse life to the plant itself. And we’ve seen a huge decrease
in our soil borne pathogens as well, a lot through just
having the proper environment out there, but also these
competitive species out there that are doing a great job of
helping us control diseases in our potatoes,
such as rhizoctonia. We’ve seen a huge
impact in our fertility. I mentioned earlier how
inefficient inorganic fertilizers are, just
because we’re constantly volatilizing and leaching
the leftover fertility. But what’s really
nice is when you’re dealing with the
carbon-based fertility, is if you put more out there
than you need that growing season, since it’s
attached to that carbon, that fertility really
doesn’t go anywhere. And we’re actually seeing
long-term accumulative effects by taking this approach,
to where we’re actually getting to the point now
where we’re greatly reducing our inputs every single year
because we’ve had enough of this carbon-based
inputs that we’re building this reservoir, this bank
of nutrient in the soil, and now we’re getting the
long-term benefits of that as we move along. And it has a huge impact on the
economics as well when you’re able to reduce your inputs
while maintaining your yields and improving your quality
all at the same time. Back before we made this
transition, just like everybody else in the valley,
we we’re starting to see an increase in
parasitic nematodes. But through the use
of green manure crops and just by bringing that
life back to the soil, creating an environment
where that fungi is now thriving in our soil
and trapping and killing those nematodes, now we no
longer have a nematode problem. And not once did we ever go
out there and actually target the parasitic
nematode, and we never tried killing it off
within a nematicide. So we were able to start
solving our problems by bringing this life back into the system. And then there’s been some other
impacts on our weed populations as well. Like I said, a
lot of these weeds tend to thrive in
stressed soils. But as we bring the
carbon back into the soil, we bring our fertility
back into balance, it’s helped us tremendously,
helping control the weed populations in our
potato crop as well. Now insect populations. This has kind of been one
of my latest obsessions is really focusing on
bringing predatory insects, really creating an environment
to where the predatory insects will thrive in our system
to really help control the insects for us as well. And then you’ll notice
I’ve got beneficial foliar biology coming over to
help control the insects. And that’s one thing that’s
really interesting when you start looking at
biological control of aphid. You start talking about
biological control, and most people
recognize ladybugs. They do a great job
of consuming aphid. They think, well, that’s all
I need out there is ladybugs. But the diversity in the insects
out there is just as critical. You just go online and just do
a quick little search on Google for biological control
of aphid, and this is the list I came up with
in about five minutes of all the different insects
out there that actually do a really good job
of controlling aphid. And then if you’ll notice
those very last two, they’re actually two fungi
that can grow on a potato plant and help control aphid as well. But if you’re out there
constantly spraying the plant with
fungicides, you’re killing off these
beneficial fungi as well. Now, one thing I
was able to realize, what you see in
this picture here is actually my greenhouse crop. Since we grow certified seed,
we grow plantless in a tissue culture lab, and we grow a
crop out in a greenhouse crop. And I understood the
value of predatory insects for controlling aphids. So what I would do each
year is I would actually purchase beneficial insects. I would buy lace
wing and ladybugs, and I would release
them in my greenhouse. They’d be there for
about a day or two, and then they would leave. So what I started to realize
is the reason that they weren’t sticking around is because I
didn’t have the environment for them to stay
there and thrive. So what I’ve actually learned is
there are some flowering crops out there that produce high
amounts of nectar, which can actually sustain
these predatory insects. You can actually build these
predatory insect populations before the pest insect
actually arrives. So now what I do is I’ve got
a multi species flowering crop that I plant directly
in with my potato crop. So here on the bottom
is a list of all the different
flowering crops that I grow in my greenhouse
with my potato crop now. And once I get the
flowering crop established, now I can actually go in there
and release predatory insects, and instead of them
leaving, they’re actually sticking
around and reproducing. So now I’m only releasing adult
ladybugs in my greenhouse, but yet you can go in
there and find eggs, pupae, and larvae in my greenhouse crop
throughout the entire season now. And now I no longer have to
worry about aphid infestation, because I’ve got this defense
set up in my greenhouse crop. So now here’s a
really good indicator of how we are farming now. And I think it’s really
important you know, you really see soil
primers as being the foundation for this system,
and that beneficial life in the soil is another
really important component. But one thing that that
diagram doesn’t really do a good job of
explaining is how important diversity is on our farm. So I’m going to go into
this just a little bit, but I’m sure this
is one thing, it’ll be kind of repeat
for a lot of you, because a lot of guys that are
doing the green manure crops are really understanding
the value of diversity. So I’ll breeze through
this one pretty fast. But I did really like this
quote by Daphne Miller. She’s the author of Farmacology. And a lot of times when you
start talking about diversity in green manure, crops,
you’ll hear a lot people say one plus one doesn’t
always equal two. And I think that’s a
good way of looking at, and I think this quote
here actually makes even more sense out of it. You know, I was talking
about that linear system, that conventional
agriculture tends to apply. And when you put
in x and get out y, you expect 2x to give you 2y. But when you start
bringing in diversity, this isn’t necessarily true. We find ourselves putting
into 2x now and getting a much better return on this
by bringing that diversity, because there’s a lot of synergy
there, a lot of these things are complementing each
other and making them all function more efficiently. So here’s an example of
one of the multi species green manure crops I
have used in the past. And that I’m not going to
go into too much detail on this one. I might use the green cover
seed cover crop calculator for putting these
mixes together. And just like everybody
else, I always try to cover the four
main categories here, as far as the broad-leaf
grasses, warm and cool season. So here’s how one of
my dream manure mixes would break down into
those four categories. And then we always have an
emphasis on the legume crops. And one way I like
looking at it is each of these green manure crops
have a lot of specific benefit to them. And we used to think in
conventional agriculture, well, I want the benefits
of each of these, but you’ve got four
different categories there. That means it’s going to take
four different years to grow those crops out to get
that benefit from it. But what we’re
starting to realize is by bringing these species
all together at the same time, we’re going to get
the benefit of each of these individual
species every single year. And that’s where these
multi species green manure crops have really leapt us
forward as far as our progress, because we’re seeing things
happen so much more quickly than if we were to come
in with individual species of these green manures. And here is one
thing where I will vary from a lot of
the no till guys out there doing the
cover cropping is I do incorporate my
green manure crop. So on the picture
on the left there, we’re actually going through
and chopping the green manure to help break down the residue. Then we will make one single
path with a sunflower mulcher to help get that green manure
incorporated into the soil. And the whole reason behind
that is with the rotation crop being potatoes that next year,
if I have too much residue out there, the way the equipment
is designed for potatoes, that residue can actually
become trash to us and can become a
great hindrance to us. So we have to be
very careful when it comes to managing
our residue. So here’s what it looks
like after the one pass, and then on the left there,
I’ll just get one last time just to incorporate that
green manure before I make rows in the fall for my
potato crop the next season. But one of the main
reasons I wanted to talk about
diversity a little bit is we’ve seen such
tremendous benefits from diversity in
our rotation crop. Now we used to grow a
potato barley rotation, so half our acreage each
year would be potatoes, the other half was barley. And then when we brought
in the green manure crops, the first year we did
a monoculture of Sudan. We were really targeting
nematodes with this. And we saw great
benefit from that Sudan. But then I happened to meet Jay
[INAUDIBLE], in North Dakota, and he really helped me
realize the importance of bringing in diversity. So this is the very
first diverse mix that we planted on our farm,
and it was a seven species mix. And at the time I thought
seven species was crazy. He had a hard time talking
to me into that many species out there at one time. And after that one season, we
were just absolutely hooked. We saw the benefits
of that seven species, so we wanted to bring
in even more diversity. So each year I found myself
adding more and more diversity because we saw the benefits
of bringing in more diversity. So each year we kept
growing more and more, started bringing in some
stuff that we could graze. And this is actually my
green manure mix this year. So we’re up to a 15 species mix. But the trouble with this is
we’re seeing great benefit from the diverse mix
on a rotation crop, but we still had a
monoculture of potatoes on the other half of the farm. And that was disturbing to me. So actually I came across
this idea on accident. I hope you can see that
in the picture there, but what we’ve got is
a potato crop here, and there were some peas
growing up in that one row. A long time ago, we actually
use to raise field peas, and we would get some volunteers
coming up once in awhile. One day out in the field I
noticed some peas growing. And if normally I’d see a weed
out there, I would pull it, but with those peas
I just let them be, because I figured they
weren’t doing any harm. And that’s when the light
bulb kind of came up. If those peas aren’t
doing any harm out there, maybe I’ve actually got
something to gain from this. It is a legume, so it’s
adding nitrogen to the soil. It’s also a diverse root system. Each root system’s going
to foster different life in the soil. And it’s also got
some flowers on there, so maybe that’ll attract
some predatory insects. So what we did that
next season is we hopped on top of
our potato planter and just planted some peas by
hand just to see how it did. And we liked the idea so much
that we actually ended up the next year incorporating
peas into our entire potato crop as a companion. We actually designed a potato
plant to the help this for us. We didn’t have time to sit back
there the entire time planting peas by hand. So we actually designed
this potato planter here that had some Gandy
boxes on the front of it. And these Gandy
boxes are driven, along with the cups
on the planter that are planting the potatoes,
and it actually plants the peas for us. The peas fall down
in those tubes and get planted right along
with the potato seed peas. We like the peas so much
that now any time you start dealing with
diversity in these mixtures, you kind of create an addiction. You introduce one species
and it’s never enough. You always want more
and more and more. So the next year we
actually incorporated chickling vetch as a companion. It was another legume, but
it was a little differently than the pea. There’s chemically
different things going on in the soil,
blooming at a different time. So we wanted to bring in
more diversity there as well. They both had a big seed piece,
which was really important, because we are planting
this crop very deep. Now you’ll see on the left there
is a potato seed pea that’s sprouting, and on the right
is some peas and chickling vetch that are starting
to sprout and come up. The first year I did
this, I was worried about the pea coming up at all. But what we ended up having
with the exact opposite problem, and we’re actually
to the point where the peas are beating the
potatoes out of the ground. And we actually
kill a few of them off when we’re
controlling our weeds. So I was very pleased that
that was able to work for us. So here’s some pictures of
peas and chickling vetch coming right alongside in
my potato crop here. And one thing that’s
interesting when I first came up with this idea and talking
to a few guys is they were actually opposed to
it because they said, well, if you’re going to introduce
more plant species out in your potato crop, you’re
going to create competition. But what you see here is there’s
a line right down the middle, and on the left was that first
year, that was our control strip, and on the right was
where we had the peas planted. And when you’re doing
a companion crop, it’s actually possible to
come up with a very balanced mixture to where not only did
we not create competition, but what I feel
like we’re doing is we’re creating a collaboration. And everywhere that we had our
peas versus the control strip there, wherever we
had the peas, we actually out yielded
the control strip. So not only were we not
introducing competition, we are actually helping that
potato crop thrive and produce even better. So now so we have the peas
and chickling vetch out there as companion crops,
and now I’ve started bringing in the buckwheat
for a lot of the same reasons that we have the flowers out
there in my green manure crop or in the greenhouse
crop, excuse me. The buckwheat does
a really good job of attracting predatory insects. So now we have another
role the companion crop is filling for us. So here you see
the chickling vetch on the left and the buckwheat
on the right, both doing really well out in the potato crop. And here are some of the legumes
that are coming off the peas. So I mean, just
gigantic legumes. So we know we’re getting
some tremendous nitrogen fixation from this idea. And then this year,
like I said, I’m never really quite content
with where we are on diversity. So now I started bringing
and desi chickpea as well, and I’m very pleased
with how it’s doing. So now you look at
this system here. Now when we start bringing
in the companion crop, what I really like about this is
any time you introduce more life into the system, it
strengthens this approach even further. So now it’s had an impact on
my fertility, because I’ve got legumes out there every
single year now adding nitrogen to my soil. You’ve got a
diverse root system, which feeding more life in
the soil to releasing root exudates, improving the
carbon content in my soil. And now we’ve got the
flowering crops out there to provide the environment
for the predatory insects. So now you can see
where we’re actually getting somewhere with
the diversity now. So one thing I
noticed last year was having the buckwheat
out in my field. It really did a
great job of bringing diverse, predatory
populations into my field. So up on the left hand corner
here you see a green lace wing, is a really good
consumer of aphid. You’ve got a checkered beetle
just to the right of it. To the bottom there is the
lady beetle, which we all know. And then a Collops beetle
down there at the right. So now I’m not just
relying on the lady beetle as a predatory insect. I’ve got a diverse
population of insects out there helping control
my aphid population. But one thing
that’s important, we understand the value of
having those diverse insect populations out
there, but yet I only had that buckwheat out there
for really attracting them. So I really wanted to
take it a step further. And what we did
this year– so now you see the strip in
the middle there– I’ve actually introduced my flowering
mix into the potato crop as well. I’ve got strips through
the potato field that are committed for
the flowering mix, and I also planted it around
the perimeter as well. And so far I’m very
pleased with the diversity I’m seeing out there in
my insect populations. You can’t have diverse
insect populations without having that
diverse flower plant population to support it. So now you can really see
how many different species I’m planting on my farm, all
for the sake of growing a potato crop. This is how important
we think diversity is to the complete system. I think a lot of people think
we’ve taken it to an extreme, but I’m not content yet. I’m still looking for
more and more ways to bring in even
more diversity here. And one thing
that’s important to is just each of
these that are listed on each of these categories,
it’s not like each of those only serve a certain role. You’ll see a lot of
these are actually planted In multiple areas. So like peas, for
instance, I’ve got planted as a companion
crop in my potatoes. I’ve got it planted
in my flowering mix because it does a
great job of attracting predatory insects
to my potato field. And then it’s also in
my green manure mix as well for the
nitrogen fixation. So it serves multiple
roles on my farm. So one thing I think
is really important is to take a step back and
look at the two systems that I’ve talked about today. And remember I used the
term by biotic farming. I think another
reason I really like using this term is I think it
plays very well when you look at the two of
these side by side. Because now that we know
what biotic farming is, we have a decision
that can be made. We can either be
probiotic our antibiotic. And I think this does a
good job of explaining why these systems are good and
why they might be failing us. And it’s interesting
when you look up antibiotic in the dictionary. This is the actual
definition that comes out of the dictionary to
define antibiotic. It means to prevent,
inhibit, or destroy life. And that is what’s wrong with
conventional agriculture today. Everything that we are
applying to the crops, it’s all about destroying and
removing life from the system. We need to get back to
that probiotics approach where we’re actually
promoting, enhancing, and nurturing life
in the system. So a lot of people
ask me, how do you know that your
system is working? And there’s lots of indicators. Like I said, the
quality of our potatoes. One thing that
I’ve noticed lately though is that the
health of our seed pieces even are very
dramatically improved. So this is a picture of some
red potatoes at harvest time. And we’ve got the new
potatoes on the right there. And we’ve actually
gotten to the point now where we actually
have to sort out the seed pieces at harvest time now too. Whereas before in
our original system, most of these seed pieces
would be completely decayed by harvest time, and
it was never an issue. So this gives you a good idea
of just how healthy our soil and plant are that it’s not
even consuming that seed piece, and there’s actually a lot of
vigor left in the seed piece even at harvest time. And here’s another
really good example too is just a real simple test
you can do is just pulling up the roots that are in your soil,
and seeing how that soil is sticking to an aggregating
around that root zone. And here’s a good example. So you now that it’s a good
indicator that that plant is releasing the exudates and
feeding that life in the soil, and there’s the very first step
of those soil aggregates being formed out in our soil. So we see a lot of
indicators out there to show that we are on
the right track here. So as we look at this picture,
I keep emphasizing the point about bringing more
and more diverse life back into the system. And I think we can take
it even a step further. One thing I’m going to introduce
to my farm this year is cattle. We actually designed
our green manure crop to be grazing friendly,
and we’re actually going to bring some
cattle out on the farm to help graze that green manure
just to help cycle nutrients. And there’s a lot
of things going on in a cow’s stomach that can’t
be replicated in any other way. So just by bringing
in this diverse life, I think we’re going to be able
to strengthen this system even further. So once we get everything
figured out with the cattle, I’ll be very open to bringing
in diversity in our livestock as well too. I think there’s a lot to be
gained from different animals out their grazing
all at the same time. But I think as good as
this is as far as growing the potatoes and everything,
we’ve talked about life a lot today, there’s still one
thing I have yet to mention. And it’s the most
important thing is we really need to keep the
end consumer in mind here too. I’m very proud of the
crop we are growing. We’re growing it
without toxic chemicals. We’re providing a healthy soil
to grow the healthy plant, the healthy plant’s
growing the healthy tuber, and that’s going to provide
healthier people when we are consuming these tubers. So I think it’s something we
need to keep in mind when we’re looking at all the life that’s
involved here, because we can’t forget about ourselves. And that’s why
these two guys here are a lot of my motivation. This is the next
generation of Rockey Farms here if they choose. And I’m not going to hand
over on a farm that’s been depleted and degraded. I’m going to make
sure that if they want to come back to the farm
that they’re starting off with a healthy soil that’s
functioning properly, because that’s
going to give them the best chance for success. And it’s providing
them with a crop that they can consume and help
improve their own health as well. So that’s basically all
I’ve got for you guys today. I just want to mention
a couple of things. We do have a Rockey
Farms Facebook page. It’s a good way to
communicate with us. I try to put updates on there,
any of these wild and crazy things that we’re
trying for the year. So I encourage you to
check us out on there if you want to communicate with
me later after this webinar. And then I also do
have a side business I work with called
Soil Guys, that we’ve been working with a lot
of these other inputs. A lot of the philosophy
from this presentation will be on there. And then my contact information
will also be on there, so it’s a great way
to get a hold of me. So that’s all I’ve got for you. Wow, Rockey, I don’t even
know what to say, Brendon. You’ve done such
a wonderful job, and we’ve got a ton of
questions coming here. So I just want remind
folks, if you’re interested in asking a
question of Brendon here, type it in here and I’ll
try and get through as many as possible. Kind of going back– most of
the questions came in at the end there when you talked
about diversity, but there was a
few that came in. This idea of weeds
and fertility changing with soil infiltration,
density, those types of things, could you talk a little
bit more about that, and what maybe led you to see
that or make that observation? Yeah. There’s some really good books
out there on the subject. Like Weeds, Defenders
of the Soil. I think what we need
to do is recognize why weeds are growing. And every single time you see
a weed thriving in the soil, it’s because it’s
trying to correct something that’s
wrong out there. One of the main problems
that it’s trying to correct is bare soil. That’s something I’m not
going to be able to get away with with the potatoes,
because I can’t rely on the high residue
amount out there. But also the
fertility imbalances, they talk a lot
about that as well. A lot of the
micronutrients, when those get way out
of whack, a lot of times these weeds
are growing to help correct that problem for us. So we always look at weeds
as being the bad guys, but most the time that
weeds are thriving it’s because they’re actually
trying to correct something that’s wrong in the soil for us. So I would encourage
you go out and find some of these publications,
and it gives you a lot more detail than I
could ever touch on. As far as an
observation, like I said, looking at the weed species
that thrive in our soils now, like sunflower I
think is a great example, we used to have a
ton of sunflower out in our potato fields. But now you can’t find a single
sunflower out in our field. And when you go
into these charts and look at what a sunflower
is an indicator of, most the time
sunflowers do really well in soil that are
waterlogged, have poor soil structure, really tight soils. Because that sunflower’s
trying to– it likes that excess
moisture and actually does a good job of using up
that excess moisture to bring that soil
back into balance. So once again, we
just need to observe what the weed is
trying to do for us. What was the name of that
publication again, Brendon? One of them is called Weeds,
Defenders of the Soil. And then there’s a bunch
more out there as well. You can just go on
Amazon and there’s several really good
publications on the subject. And a lot of them really go
into the fertility aspect of it as well. Do you have something similar? I notice your discussion
about the parasitic nematodes and that relationship too. Is there a reference
that you have where you found a lot
of information that was beneficial along
those lines too? A lot of that’s been from
just different people I’ve met, a lot of guys
producing different products out there, a lot of guys with
inoculums with these known fungi for controlling
the nematodes. There are some really
good books out there. I know Jerry Brunetti’s
latest book touches on nematodes quite a bit. I can’t think of the name of it. Another book that
I really like is called Farming in
Nature’s Image. If I were to write
a book myself, there’s two chapters
in that book that would be eerily
similar to what I would write if I
were to write a book, so that’s one of my favorites. So that’s Farming
in Nature’s Image. I’d really encourage
you go go get that one. OK. I had a question about
your use of chemicals, which ones you might use. And then also maybe what’s your
fertility program look like, as far as supplemental
materials that you’re using? Yeah, we are completely
chemical free. I don’t use any chemical
on my farm anymore. Well, I’ll back that up. The one chemical we do use
is we still use sulfuric acid as a line desiccant. With our growing seed
and especially potatoes, once we get our potatoes
to a certain size, we need to terminate the
crops so they quit growing. So we use sulfuric
acid, but we don’t feel like that has any other
detriment on the soil health. But as far as the
cides, we don’t use any herbicide, no fungicide,
no insecticide, no nematicide. We don’t use any of
those chemicals anymore. As far as the
fertility goes, compost is still the foundation
of our fertility. When we were doing a
potato grain rotation, we were doing three times the
compost every single year. As we got away from the grain
and doing the green manure crop, we were able
to cut that in half. We just did three
ton every other year. Because we weren’t
removing anything, because we were harvesting
that green manure crop. But as we’ve brought
in diversity, brought in more legumes, the soil
health has improved as a whole. We got to the point where
we are able to back off to a ton and a half of
compost every other year. And we were actually
to the point this year, we had one field that
had so much built up nutrient in the soil that we
skipped the compost application altogether this year. Because we actually
got to the point where we were worried about
having too much out there. And then I also use a
fish-based fertilizer, and then a lot of those other inoculates. Through the pivot, we
[INAUDIBLE] those on. Are you using your
base for your compost? Is there anything
particular about that? No, we’re real limited on what
we have as a parent material there. We used to have
turkey manure in it, but a lot of the feedlots
that had the turkeys in them got shut down, so we
had to move the cattle. The manure that’s
used in it comes from feedlots,
which isn’t ideal, but we just are really limited
on our resources there. And then it’s usually mixed
in with barley stubble, which is great because
it’s readily available here in the valley. So that’s a pretty
cheap carbon source that we can add in for that. And then I can
actually, a lot of times I’ll take some of
the fish product and mix it in with the
compost before it gets spread. And what we’ll do is when I’m
incorporating my green manure crop, so this year
when I incorporate my green manure crop, that’s
when I’m going to spread my compost after
that crop is done and we terminate that crop, so
that my compost is out there, everything’s in there ready
to go come next spring when I’m ready to plant potatoes. How has this affected your
organic matter levels? We’ve come up quite a ways. We used to be about 0.9% and
we’ve peaked out at about 1.8%. And a lot of people
hear that number and they’re kind of
disappointed in that. They would expect the organic
matter to be a lot higher. But you have to keep in
mind our environment. We do have very sandy soils. They’re dominated with sand. We’re also a very arid climate. So we just aren’t
ever going to be able to achieve these
really high organic matters in this environment. And what’s really interesting
is when you go around and start looking at the native
soils in this area and start looking for
organic matter there, it can be anywhere
from 0% to 0.5%. So 1.8% is actually a
huge improvement over even what the native soils
can provide you with. How has that affected your
water management as far as irrigation? You mentioned something
about how you cut down on a number of cycles
and an amount of water. But has it influenced your
irrigation in any other way? I mean, just overall efficiency. The soils function with the
water so much better now. I just don’t feel
like I waste a drop. I mean, I truly feel
like the irrigation water I’m putting out there
gets completely used, and at no point am
I wasting anything. And like I said, you
can really notice it when you compare my numbers
to most of the other potato production in this area. I’m using a significant amount
less of irrigation water, but it’s not like I’m
sacrificing anything else just to save the water. I’m still producing a very
high quality and high quantity crop with less water,
which just goes to show you how much more inefficient
we were to begin with. Is there pressure in your
locale as far as amount to water depletion of water
table, that type of thing, to become more efficient? Yeah, absolutely. We sit on top of
an aquifer, so we get recharge from the
mountains each spring. When the snow melts it comes
and recharges that aquifer. And then we pump
from that aquifer. And we’ve depleted
that aquifer to a level that it’s a historic low. So I mean, water is
the number one issue if you were to
travel around talking to farmers in this area. If you were to ask them what
their number one concern would be, almost every single one
of them would tell you water. When I was a kid, you used to
be able to go out with a shovel and just start digging, and you
could reach the water table. We’re to the point
now in my area, it’s probably about 30
foot– 30 to 40 feet deep. So we’ve depleted
it to a scary level. So now a lot of the
talk is, you know, a lot of that has to do with
we’re in drought conditions. Were not getting as
much recharge each year. But a lot of people
think in order to bring that
aquifer back that we need to cut acreage
out of this valley. What I would rather
see us do is improve the efficiency of
our soil first, see how much we can
save there before we start talking about actually
putting farms out of business. And that seems reasonable. A lot of questions
about diversity. And you mentioned several times
about you noticed the benefits, you noticed the changes. What was it that you
were seeing taking place as you were adding the diversity
that encouraged you so much as related to the soil there? Yeah, I mean, just
when we started bringing in the multi
species green manure, I mean, that very next year it
was just evident, just the potato crop
that followed it. I mean, the crop was
just so much healthier. The tilth of our soil,
the soil was much looser. You could notice a difference
in the smell of the soil. It had a more
earthy smell to it. You could tell there was higher
actinomyces activity in there based off of the smell of it. And then like I
said, when we first brought in the green
manure crop, a lot of it was the initial water
savings, because we were growing a
shorter season crop. We weren’t growing
it to full maturity. So we could use a lot less
water growing that crop. But it amazed us how much less
water we used the next year. And I think a lot
of that just had to do from the root exudates. We added so much more
carbon to the soil that we got the benefits
of it the next year even in the potato crop. And now that we’re going
back and forth each year, we’re getting in a
cumulative effect to where I’m still seeing
improvements in our soil. So we haven’t even come close
to plateauing or peaking on our soil improvement. I think we’ve got a
long ways to go still. I had a couple questions
related to your cover crops. How are you seeding them? And then again, what’s your
seeding rate, especially when you’ve got the
more diverse– what is it– 14 different mixes? How do you even begin
to figure that out? We use the same
drill that we used to use for planting our barley. The seed comes
already pre mixed. We just dump it in there and go. And we’re planting at
about 40 pounds per acre, just because you don’t want to
waste money on too much seed, but you want enough out there
to get enough competition with the weeds. So we feel really happy
with 40 pounds per acre, but that’s going to vary
a little bit based off of your mix as well. And I rely a lot on Keith Berns
there at Green Cover Seed. I sit down with him every
year, we come up with a mix, and he gives me a suggested
planting rate on that. And he’s been spot on so far. One of our participants
observed that you use peas in all segments of your
rotation there with diversity. Are you concerned a little
bit about any of that– Having the same crop
every single year? Yeah. Yes. Yes. I’m really not, because
we’ve got so much diversity out there. See, we’ve been
trained in agriculture to not plant the same
crop year after year, but applies to
monoculture crops. You don’t want the
same monoculture after monoculture
and monoculture. But when you’ve got so
much diversity out there, it’s not going to
create those issues that you would
run into by having a short rotation
of monocultures. So I feel like by having a
10 species mix out there, I think we’re getting the same
value out of that in one season as you would a 10 year rotation
with 10 different crops planted one after the other. We’ve had several questions
about late blight. a Yeah, that’s one of
the– you were asking me before we started, why
is the San Luis Valley so good for growing potatoes? We are very fortunate here. We are technically in a desert. We get less than six
inches of precip a year. And we just have
very low humidities. So we just have an
environment that isn’t very good for late blight. So in the history of potato
production in the San Luis Valley, we’ve only seen late
blight established twice. And it took a really
unique weather pattern to come in and sit into this
valley for a couple of weeks to were it could thrive. But most years we just don’t
even have to worry about it, because you couldn’t get it
to grow out on those plants if you tried because
we are so arid. So it’s an issue I
don’t have to deal with, but I know the guys up
in Maine specifically and up on the West Coast,
that that’s a bigger issue. And I’ve had some conversations
with some of those folks, and I don’t have that first
hand personal experience with late blight to be able
to touch on that subject. But I think as long
as you’re following a lot of these
fundamentals, I think that’s the first step
towards controlling it. And let me throw
this one at you, and maybe we’ll wind up on this. In transitioning,
Brendon, can you give some experience,
what you did, and maybe some tips, if you
were to start over again what you would do, and maybe
make some recommendations out there? Yeah, well, the
trouble for us is this is about 20 years ago
that we made this transition. And my uncle’s the one that
really led the charge on it. He just realized that
what we were doing wasn’t working anymore. But the trouble is
we really didn’t know– we knew what we
needed to stop doing, but we didn’t know what
we needed to start doing. So in our transition,
it was very slow because we would try one thing,
we bring in one tool at a time. We would see great
benefit from that, then we would move
on to the next thing. What can we do now? What else can we do? So what’s nice is we’ve
kind of been the guinea pigs and we’ve discovered a
lot of this on our own. But I’ve also been
very fortunate. I’ve had access to a lot
of tremendous resources across the country, and they’ve
helped us bring everything together to where now
if somebody else wanted to make this same
transition, they could bring in all these
tools at the same time, and they would shorten
that length of time to make that transition. Like I said, for us, bringing
in one tool at a time, we really stretched out
that transition time. But I don’t think it
has to be that way. And the more tools you can
come in with at a time, the quicker that
transition will be. And it’s really hard
for some people. They see what we’re doing and
they say, well, that’s great. And they want make
the transition, but making it all at one time
is kind of scary to them, because it’s a completely
new way of farming. So a lot of them just
kind of want to bring in, well, let me just
do this one thing. So what I tell them
is the more committed you are to making this change,
the smoother the transition is going to be. So if you’re only going to
bring in 10% of my program into a transition period, only
expect 10% of the results. Whereas if you can bring
in everything all at once, you’re going to have a
greater chance of success. That’s a good way of a
wrapping it up, Brendon. And again, I’ve got a
few more questions here, but we are running
over a little bit. I want to just tell you how much
I appreciate your presentation. You definitely have
an advanced level of understanding when it comes
to the subject matter here, and I appreciate your effort
there, and thank you again. And with that, just
remember to those of you who are interested in getting
credits for participating in this, remember the
process that Holli outlined at the beginning. And with that, we’ll
just call it a close. And appreciate your
help there, Brendon. Thank you. Yeah. Yep. Appreciate it. Thanks.

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