As the New Year arrives, we reflect on the past year where farmers and ranchers faced weather extremes, low commodity prices and a host of other challenges. We can’t predict with certainty what the New Year will bring, but we realize many of these challenges are likely to continue.
So what can we do to mitigate these challenges? The answer lies in regeneration. Here is our Top 10 list of ways for you to regenerate your farm/ranch and increase your profitability in 2020:
- Educate yourself. Attend a Soil Health Academy, read, watch and learn how healthy ecosystems function.
- Apply the six principles of soil health on your own farm or ranch and reap the many rewards as you do.
- Focus on profit, not yield and pounds. There is a big difference. The highest yielding crop or the heaviest livestock are usually not the most profitable.
- Take and follow meaningful soil tests and recommendations. Nearly all soil tests conducted today only look at the inorganic fractions of nutrients in the soil sample. We now know that plants have the ability, through mycorrhizal fungi, to take up organic forms of nutrients. This means that most farmers are over-applying nutrients. The Haney soil test will guide producers as to proper application rates.
- Allow nature to work for you. By providing adequate habitat, pollinators and predators will thrive. They will add dollars to your pocket by pollinating crops and controlling pests.
- Challenge livestock to thrive in your environment. The largest cost in the livestock business is that of feed. By raising livestock that can thrive on the forages grown on your ranch, allowing them to express positive epigenetic effects, you will lower feed costs thus putting more dollars in your pocket.
- Do not provide your cattle, sheep, hogs, horses or goats with a bed and breakfast. These animals have four legs, make them use them. They are tools, not pets.
- Slash overhead. Iron does not build biology. Sell all but the most essential equipment. Nearly every farm or ranch has equipment that is not used enough to justify its cost. Use the money to reduce debt.
- Explore other revenue streams. Look around your farm/ranch and identify missed opportunities that can be capitalized on. Every farm and ranch have these. Why limit your income by growing only a few crops or raising just one species of livestock? This may be the income needed to allow the next generation to join the operation.
- Take time to enjoy life. Regenerative agriculture includes regenerating our lives also. By working with nature, instead of against her, one has more time to spend on what is truly meaningful: our faith, family and community.
Regenerative agriculture is a positive, rewarding journey that is being experienced by thousands of farm and ranch families all over the world. In the New Year, we invite you to go on this journey with us.