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Thread: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

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    Exclamation Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    A very amazing man, Sepp Holzer, speaks about natural farming and about his knowledge of how to respect and work with nature....by permaculture

    (engl. subtitles)

    Last edited by Seabreeze; 5th January 2019 at 11:16.

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    Default Re: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    Great post. Keep up the uplifting and positive threads!

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    Default Re: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    Yeah, Sepp Holzer! He is quite an individual...very hardheaded and sometimes not so easy being around with him, BUT

    He is one of the true pioneers of Permaculture, especially in the mountain regions. Instead of getting a Pemaculture Design Certificate in a 4-weekends course, his approach was more of an organic nature. Just observe your environment where you live and then replicate what you see there and imitate it. His university is nature.

    He got in some trouble with authorities over here, because of his "out of the box thinking" and unconventional style. But, it needs people like this to shake the walls of antiquity.

    Also, whats equally important, is the Permaculture lifestyle. To incorporate Permaculture in your ways of thinking to create a sustainable life for you and your surroundig.

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    Default Re: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    Earth Day: Learn Why Biodynamic Soils Are the Healthiest
    Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola
    April 22, 2019

    A recent study by a leading organic wine brand demonstrates the beneficial impact organic and biodynamic farming have on soil health; either method is superior to conventional farming, sequestering 12.8% and 9.4% more carbon per acre respectively than conventional farming
    Biodynamic farming provides superior crops both in volume and increased density of nutrients. Biodynamic farms are also completely self-sustaining. This self-sustainability is what sets biodynamic farms apart from organic farms
    Agricultural fertilizer, especially the nitrogen component, is the greatest contributor to air pollution in much of the U.S., China and Russia; excess fertilizer runoff is also one of the largest contributors to groundwater and ocean pollution
    Conventional agriculture, due to its heavy use of potable water for irrigation, is also a primary cause of water scarcity around the world, as aquifers once thought to be inexhaustible are being drained faster than they can refill
    One-third of Earth’s soil is acutely degraded as a result of tilling and heavy chemical use, which remove carbon from the soil and destroy the microbial balance in the soil responsible for plant nutrition and growth
    Earth Day is an annual event celebrated each year on April 22, to promote environmental awareness and protection. As noted by calendar-365.com:1

    "The history of Earth Day … dates back to 1970 when it was first celebrated … It was founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson to promote ecology and the respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution."

    You may be surprised to learn that of all the sources of pollution in our modern world, the greatest contributor is conventional agriculture. As explained by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations:2

    "Over two-thirds of human water use is for agriculture … Crop and livestock production … are the main source of water pollution by nitrates, phosphates and pesticides. They are also the major anthropogenic source of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, and contribute on a massive scale to other types of air and water pollution.

    The extent and methods of agriculture, forestry and fishing are the leading causes of loss of the world's biodiversity … Agriculture also affects the basis for its own future through land degradation, salinization, the overextraction of water and the reduction of genetic diversity in crops and livestock …

    If more sustainable production methods are used, the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment can be attenuated. Indeed, in some cases agriculture can play an important role in reversing them, for example by storing carbon in soils, enhancing the infiltration of water and preserving rural landscapes and biodiversity."

    Modern Food Production Is a Disaster in More Ways Than One
    Yes, the way we grow a vast majority of our food is simultaneously destroying the natural world, thereby threatening our very existence on this planet. Indeed, virtually every growing environmental and health problem can be traced back to modern food production, including:

    Food insecurity and malnutrition amid mounting food waste

    Promotion of foodborne illnesses and drug-resistant bacterial infections

    Rising obesity and chronic disease rates despite growing health care outlays

    Rapidly dwindling fresh water supplies

    Toxic agricultural chemicals polluting air, soil and waterways, thereby threatening the entire food chain from top to bottom

    Disruption of normal climate and rainfall patterns due to the destruction of ecosystems by pollution

    The good news is there's a viable answer to all of these. As recognized by FAO, the answer hinges on the widespread implementation of regenerative agriculture and biodynamic farming. By affecting change through your shopping habits, there's hope we may avoid a complete breakdown of our ecosystem and food production.

    One thing's for sure: We cannot wait for regulations to drive this change. We must push for it ourselves, and we do so by voting with our pocketbooks every time we shop for food.

    How Conventional Agriculture Pollutes Our Air, Water and Soil
    According to research3 published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in 2016, emissions from farming far outweigh other sources of particulate matter, and agricultural fertilizer, especially the nitrogen component, is the greatest contributor to air pollution in much of the U.S., China and Russia.

    As nitrogen fertilizers break down, ammonia is released into the air. When it reaches industrial areas, it combines with fossil fuel combustion creating microparticles. Although nitrogen is found naturally in air, water and soil, reactive nitrogen, a primary component in nitrogen-based fertilizers, is processed using large amounts of energy from fossil fuel-burning engines. This also contributes to industrial pollution.

    When nitrogen-based fertilizer is added to the soil, it reduces the amount of sequestered carbon4 and severely disrupts the soil microbiome5 — both of which affect the soil's ability to support plant growth.6 The addition of nitrogen-based fertilizer also reduces the soil's pH and decreases bacterial diversity in the soil.7

    Excess fertilizer runoff is also one of the largest contributors to ocean pollution — creating dead zones where oxygen is eliminated and fish and other marine life can no longer survive8 — and groundwater pollution, rendering our freshwater supplies unfit to drink.9

    Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)10 are equally notorious for polluting precious water supplies. According to a report11 by Environment America, corporate agribusiness is "one of the biggest threats to America's waterways." Tyson Foods Inc. was deemed among the worst, releasing 104.4 million pounds of toxic pollutants into waterways between 2010 and 2014.

    Conventional Agriculture Is Also Draining Global Water Supplies
    Conventional agriculture, due to its heavy use of potable water for irrigation, is also a primary cause of water scarcity around the world, with aquifers once thought to be inexhaustible being drained faster than they can be refilled.

    In the High Plains Aquifer (also known as the Ogallala) in the American Midwest, for example, the water level has been dropping by an average of 6 feet per year, while the natural recharge rate is 1 inch or less.12 The depletion of the agricultural water supply is allegedly due to the activities of an oil and gas company, American Warrior,13 which has 1.3 thousand leases for drilling rights across Kansas.

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 80 percent of U.S. consumptive water (and more than 90 percent in many Western states) is used for agricultural purposes.14

    One-third of the world's largest groundwater aquifers are already nearing depletion,15,16 and according to a 2016 report17 by Phys.org, global groundwater resources could be depleted within as little as three decades. This chilling prediction was made by Inge de Graaf, a hydrologist at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, who presented her findings at the 2016 American Geophysical Union meeting.

    James (Jay) Famiglietti, director of the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan and former senior water scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has also stated that the majority of our global groundwaters "are past sustainability tipping points,"18 so whether it's three decades or a few decades more, it's only a matter of time until we run out of fresh water.

    The long-term solution to these water quality and water scarcity issues is to phase out the use of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers and soil additives, and to grow crops and raise food animals in such a way that the farm actually contributes to the overall health and balance of the environment rather than polluting it and creating a dysfunctional ecosystem.

    Soil Degradation and Erosion — A Devastating Legacy of Conventional Farming
    In addition to being a primary source of air, water and land pollution, conventional agriculture also threatens our very ability to continue food production by degrading and eroding agricultural soils.

    In a 2012 Time magazine19 interview, former University of Sydney professor John Crawford, who now is the integrated solutions lab flagship leader for sustainable agricultural sciences at Rothamsted Research center, noted that about 40 percent of agricultural soils around the globe are classified as degraded or seriously degraded.

    "Seriously degraded" means that 70 percent of the topsoil (the layer of soil in which plants grow) has already disappeared. At present, topsoil is being lost 10 to 40 times faster than nature can regenerate and replenish it naturally.

    The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification's Global Land Outlook report,20,21,22 published in 2017, concluded fertile soil is being lost at an average rate of 24 billion tons per year.

    According to this report, one-third of Earth's soil is already "acutely degraded" as a result of tilling and heavy chemical use — agricultural methods that remove carbon from the soil and destroy the microbial balance in the soil responsible for plant nutrition and growth. Decreased productivity was noted on:

    20% of global cropland
    16% of forest land
    19% of grassland
    27% of rangeland
    Soil Study by Organic Vineyard Demonstrates Benefits of Biodynamic Farming
    A recent study23 by Bonterra Organic Vineyards, a leading organic wine brand in the U.S., demonstrates the beneficial impact organic and biodynamic farming have on soil health.

    Pacific Agroecology,24 an environmental research and consulting company, performed the soil analyses of Bonterra's 13 vineyards in Mendocino County. Three of the vineyards use biodynamic methods, nine use organic methods and one uses conventional methods. Bonterra provides the following summary of these three farming methods:25

    "Conventional — Farming practices … that permit the use of synthetic non-organic herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers for management of crops and competitive vegetation.

    Organic — Agricultural practices that exclude the use of synthetic non-organic inputs — such as herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer — in favor of fostering the natural vitality of the farm through integrated pest management, cover crops, and building healthy soil.

    Biodynamic — Formally defined in 1924, an approach to organic cultivation that views the farm as a living organism where plants, animals and humans interrelate as members of an intricately connected ecosystem that follows the cycles of nature."

    Results reveal biodynamic sites have the greatest amounts of organic carbon in the soil, followed closely by sites using organic principles. Either method is far superior to conventional farming, sequestering 12.8% and 9.4% more carbon per acre respectively than the conventional site. More specifically, the comparison of organic carbon in the soil revealed:

    Conventional land had 41,000 pounds of soil organic carbon per acre
    Organic land had 45,200 pounds of soil organic carbon per acre
    Biodynamic land had 46,300 pounds of soil organic carbon per acre
    What's more, they also tested undeveloped wildland owned by Bonterra, finding total carbon storage was even higher here than in any of the cultivated areas. This finding suggests efforts to conserve wildland is an important undertaking. Joseph Brinkley, director of vineyards for Bonterra told NewHope:26

    "Soil organic carbon — something regenerative farming strives to enhance — is a signal of how well a landscape captures and stores carbon, and also contributes many long-term benefits to soil health, such as improved aeration, drought resistance, and erosion prevention."

    Elizabeth Drake, regenerative development manager for Bonterra, added,27 "We're excited about the potential impact of this study, which we hope inspires other farmers to examine the benefits of organic and biodynamic agriculture."

    Biodynamic Farming Is Organic — And Then Some
    Biodynamic farming is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture initially developed by Austrian scholar Rudolf Steiner,28 Ph.D., (1861-1925). He taught there is an invisible force that aids and sustains humanity, and biodynamic farming makes use of a wide variety of influences, including planetary influences and moon phases.

    As just one of many examples of Steiner's comprehensive approach to farming, biodynamic farmers will not cut off the horns on their cows, as the animal's horns are a primary sensory organ, and a complex interrelated relationship exists between the horns and the animal's digestive system.

    To this day, Steiner's book "Agriculture: Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture" serves as the basis of biodynamic farming everywhere, and his agriculture course, first offered in 1924, is available for free online.29

    Not only does biodynamic farming provide superior crops both in volume and increased density of nutrients, but biodynamic farms are also completely self-sustaining.

    This self-sustainability is what sets biodynamic farms apart from organic farms, and translates into far stricter certification criteria. When something is certified biodynamic, you can be sure you're getting food that has been produced according to the most rigorous sustainability criteria available.

    For example, while an organic farmer can section off as little as 10 percent of the farm for the growing of certified organic goods, in order to be certified as a biodynamic farmer, your entire farm must be biodynamic.

    In addition to that, biodynamic certification also requires 10 percent of the land be dedicated to increasing biodiversity, such as forest, wetland or insectary. Biodynamic farming also has most or all of the features associated with regenerative agriculture, such as crop rotation, cover crops and so on.

    Creating a Biodynamic Garden
    If you're currently gardening or planning to start, consider implementing some biodynamic principles. As noted in a previous Mother Nature Network article on biodynamic gardening:30

    "Biodynamic gardening starts with building truly healthy soil through thoughtfully integrating both plants and animals in the garden and creating fertility by rotating crops, growing green manures such as vetch or clover, and carefully composting plant waste, kitchen scraps and farm animal manures (such as chicken or rabbit) with the help of medicinal herbal preparations.

    'It's not just about what chemicals you can't use but what you can actively do to create a healthy garden whole that sustains itself,' said Thea Maria Carlson, director of programs for the Biodynamic Association in Milwaukee. 'And it works on any scale, even in a small space.'

    The ideal biodynamic garden includes both plants and animals. A growing number of cities and suburbs now allow homeowners to keep small numbers of chickens, rabbits, beehives or even goats.

    But even without these domestic animals, creating a garden that attracts such common creatures as earthworms, bees, ladybugs, praying mantises, birds and other beneficial insects, including microbial ones in the soil, is something any small-scale gardener can do."

    The article goes on to provide additional tips and guidance for budding biodynamic gardeners. For example, biodynamic principles include treating your compost with fermented medicinal herb preparations that enhance the availability of nutrients and microbial activity.

    Biodynamic sprays, made from manure, ground quartz crystals and horsetail, are applied at certain times to further boost soil and plant health. You'd also want to follow a biodynamic planting calendar to ensure an optimal crop.

    Basic Regenerative Farming Principles
    While biodynamic principles are the gold standard, you can take a big step in the right direction simply by following these five basic regenerative principles for building a healthy soil ecosystem:

    Avoid disturbing the soil microbiome with tillage, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides — The less mechanical disturbance, the better. The same applies in your home garden. The more you till, the faster the soil degrades and is destroyed, as it destroys soil aggregates and mycorrhizal fungi, which houses the microorganisms needed for nutrient transfer.

    Similarly, by adding synthetic nitrogen to the soil, the biology is radically altered — it starts consuming carbon in the soil aggregate, which destroys the soil structure.

    Without soil structure water cannot infiltrate and move throughout the soil profile and be stored via organic matter. The soil aggregates also provide the home for soil biology, which is critical to producing nutrient dense food.

    Protect the soil's surface with cover crops and cover crop residue — Forest and prairie lands are completely covered with vegetation and this is the environment farmers need to emulate. That vegetation protects the soil not only from wind and water erosion, but also from excessive heating and cooling. These living plants are what end up actually "growing" topsoil.

    In your home garden, you can use mulch, wood chips or lawn clippings to do this. You never want to leave soil bare, as bare soil will have a negative effect on soil biology and the water cycle. Cover crops and other forms of "soil armor," such as wood chips, effectively prevent water evaporation and lowers the soil temperature.

    There is easily a 20-degree F difference or more between soil that is bare and soil that is covered. When air temperatures reach 90 degrees or so, soil temperatures will rise well above 100 degrees, which will dry everything out and fry the plants' roots.

    "If you have good armor or residue on the soil surface, the temperature there can be in the 80-degree range. Those plants are growing. It's a huge difference in production for the producer," Brown says.

    Diversify — Having a diverse array of plant life is essential, and cover crops fulfill this requirement as well. Home gardens will also benefit from cover crops, helping to improve the soil, attract beneficial insects and capture more sunlight (energy).

    Maintain living roots in the ground as long as possible — In conventional farming, once a cash crop is harvested, there's nothing left in the field to capture sunlight and keep growing. Maintaining some kind of growth at all times is key. If you have a small vegetable garden, don't leave it bare once you've harvested your veggies. Instead, plant a cover crop in anticipation for the next season.

    To make the transition back from cover crop to your chosen vegetables the following season, avoid the temptation to till the cover crop into the soil. Instead, use one of the following methods to kill off the cover crop and prepare the plot for new crop growth:

    Stomp the cover crop into the ground with your feet or a board (simply attach two rope handles to a 2x4 board and then use the board to step down the crop)
    If the cover crop has started to form seed heads, you can kill it off by rolling a crop roller or small barrel over it
    Cut the growth down and leave the residue on top (although it works better if it's rolled or stepped down)
    Once the cover crop has been killed off, you're ready to plant your vegetable seeds. For a small garden, use a hoe to part the cover crop remains over to the side. Create a small slice in the soil, drop in your seeds and cover with a small amount of soil. If you're planting a transplant, simply move the cover crop aside, dig the hole and plant as normal.

    Integrate livestock and other animals, including insects — Centuries ago, large herds of bison and elk moved across the landscape, foraging, depositing manure and trampling vegetation into the ground. All of this is part of the natural cycle that is missing when animals are kept in concentrated animal feeding operations.

    Many have started raising chickens in their backyards again and chickens are an excellent addition to a sustainable garden. Rabbits, pigeons and ducks are other alternatives that could work in some suburban areas, but even if circumstances or local laws prevent you from adding animals, be sure to plant flowering plants that attract pollinators and predator insects, as these will naturally help ward off pests that might otherwise decimate your main crop.

    Protect the Earth by Voting With Your Pocketbook Every Day
    Even if you're not inclined to grow your own food, you can help steer the agricultural industry toward safer, more sustainable systems by supporting your local farmers and choosing fresh, local produce, ideally organically or biodynamically grown.

    Also, remember to choose organic, grass fed/pasture-raised beef, poultry and dairy, in addition to organic produce, as CAFOs are just as destructive as chemical-based agriculture. If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you find local sources of farm-fresh foods.

    Demeter USA — Demeter-USA.org provides a directory of certified Biodynamic farms and brands.

    American Grassfed Association (AGA) — The goal of the American Grassfed Association is to promote the grass fed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education.

    Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; and born and raised on American family farms.

    EatWild.com — EatWild.com provides lists of farmers known to produce raw dairy products as well as grass fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass fed products.

    Weston A. Price Foundation — Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

    Grassfed Exchange — The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass fed meats across the U.S.

    Local Harvest — This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass fed meats and many other goodies.

    Farmers Markets — A national listing of farmers markets.

    Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals — The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

    Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) — CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.

    The Cornucopia Institute — The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO "organic" production from authentic organic practices.

    RealMilk.com — If you're still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out Raw-Milk-Facts.com and RealMilk.com. They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area. The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund31 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.32 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at www.OrganicPastures.com.

    Sources and References
    1 Calendar-365.com Earth Day
    2 FAO.org, Agriculture and the Environment
    3 Geophysical Research Letters, May 16, 2016; 43(10)
    4 Environmental Health Perspectives, 2004;112(10)
    5 Clean Soil, Air, Water, 2012; doi:10.1002/clen.201200021
    6 PNAS, 2018; doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1717617115
    7 Nature, 2017;3267(7)
    8 Scientific American August 15, 2008
    9 FAO.org Fertilizers as Water Pollutants
    10 CDC.gov, Understanding CAFOs and Their Impact on Communities (PDF)
    11 Environment America February 4, 2016
    12 The Desert Sun February 2, 2017
    13 Drilling Edge, 2019
    14 USDA, Economic Research Service, Irrigation & Water Use, Overview
    15 IFL Science, 2019
    16 Water Resources Research June 2015: 51(6)
    17 Phys.org December 15, 2016
    18 Mashable June 16, 2015
    19 Time Magazine December 14, 2012
    20 Global Land Outlook Full Report 2017 (PDF)
    21 United Nations The Global Land Outlook
    22 The Guardian September 12, 2017
    23, 25 Bonterra.com
    24 Pacific Agroecology
    26, 27 NewHope.com March 13, 2019
    28 Biodynamic Association, Rudolf Steiner Bio
    29 Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Course
    30 Mother Nature Networks November 9, 2014
    31 The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund
    32 The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, State by State Review of Raw Milk Laws
    Each breath a gift...

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    Default Re: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    ....,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,..... .......
    Last edited by Seabreeze; 28th May 2019 at 11:44.

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    Red face Re: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    37 minutes .. to invest in this video...it is defenitly worth it..

    Last edited by Seabreeze; 4th December 2019 at 20:45.

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    Default Re: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    Danke/Thank you ..Sepp...I did learn something today again...
    Last edited by Seabreeze; 21st January 2020 at 02:04.

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    Default Re: Sepp Holzer - permaculture: natural farming, working with nature, not against nature

    Grassroots Rising — A Call to Change the World
    by Dr. Joseph Mercola
    March 01, 2020

    Ronnie Cummins’ new book, “Grassroots Rising,” details how transforming our food and farming system worldwide can solve many of our most pressing problems, including environmental pollution, health problems, climate change and rural poverty
    Transitioning to regenerative organic farming has the ability to solve all of these problems simultaneously
    Far from solving world hunger, genetically engineered crops destroy soils and make food more toxic and less nutritious. Regenerative farming has demonstrated its superiority with regard to yield and nutrition, without the use of toxic chemicals
    Education, innovation, policy changes and investment are the four things that drive this change of paradigm
    The Via Organica farm in Mexico is promoting a novel way to produce inexpensive yet highly nutritious animal feed made from native agave plants
    In this interview, Ronnie Cummins, founder of the Organic Consumers Association, discusses his new book “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal.”

    “Much of the book talks about how we need to transform our food and farming system, not only in the United States but worldwide, if we're going to solve a lot of these problems that we're seeing — environmental pollution, health problems, the climate crisis and the fact that we have so much poverty in rural areas …” Cummins says.

    Regenerative Organic Farming Is the Answer to Many Problems
    The transformation Cummins calls for is a transition to regenerative organic farming, which has the ability to solve many if not most of these problems simultaneously.

    For example, one of the primary arguments for genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods was that it was going to solve world hunger. Reality, however, has demonstrated the massive flaws in this argument.

    GE agriculture actually does the complete opposite, by destroying our soils and making food more toxic and less nutritious. Regenerative farming, on the other hand, has demonstrated its superiority with regard to yield and nutrition, all without the use of toxic chemicals. As noted by Cummins:

    “The way we have traditionally grown food for the last 10,000 years and the way we've raised animals the last 20,000 or 30,000 years is really organic and pasture-based.

    This wild experiment that industry unleashed on us since the second world war, using toxic chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, genetically engineered seeds and animal factory farms has proven to be a disaster, not just for the farmers, the animals and the land, but our public health has also suffered considerably.

    Part of our long-term call to take charge of your health, take charge of your diet [is to] take charge of our environment and really our whole economic system [and] transform this degenerative food, farming and land use system into one that is organic and regenerative.”

    Four Drivers of Change
    In his book, Cummins details four major drivers of any given system, be it, as in this case, the degenerative system we currently have, or the regenerative system we would like to have:

    Education and awareness raising — This also includes putting the information into practice, meaning, every time you pull out your wallet, you’re considering whether your money is going to support a degenerative or regenerative system. True change comes when people act out their beliefs in the marketplace
    Innovation — This includes innovation of farmers, ranchers, people who take care of our forests and wetlands and people who are innovative in terms of educating the public
    Policy changes — This includes policy changes all the way from local school boards and park districts to the White House. At present, our policies favor corporate special interests like Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Big Pharma and Wall Street. Once we get policies that support organics, regenerative agriculture and natural health, scaling these areas up will be much easier and faster
    Funding and investment — This includes both private investors and public monies
    As noted by Cummins, “Education, innovation, policy [changes] and investment are the four things that drive this change of paradigm.” Change, however, is often slow, and one of the reasons Cummins wrote “Grassroots Rising” was to inspire optimism and hope.

    “Obviously, we are still in a degenerative phase, but we can move out of this,” he says. “I think this year, 2020, is going to be the beginning of a pretty enormous global awakening.”
    Scaling Best Practices
    Cummins is co-director of an organic research farm and conference center outside of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he coordinates a regenerative agricultural system that integrates organic vegetable, seed and forage production with regenerative holistic management of poultry, sheep, goats and pigs. He and others are constantly on the lookout for best practices that can be successfully scaled up and implemented on millions of farms. Cummins explains:

    “We have been, for 10 years, running a research and teaching farm [Via Organica] outside of San Miguel de Allende, right smack in the middle of Mexico. It's the high desert area … If you look at the statistics, 40% of the world's surface is characterized as semi-arid or arid, and that's the type of area we're in here, so it's not unusual for the global landscape …

    What's difficult as a farmer or rancher, if you live in the semi-arid or arid parts of the world, is that not only is rainfall seasonal and you don't get a whole lot of it, but that it is almost impossible to raise crops on a lot of this terrain.

    What people have done for hundreds of years is graze livestock on these degraded semi-arid, arid lands. The problem is that they have overgrazed much of this 40% of the world's surface.”

    Simple Innovations Can Solve Serious Problems
    During one of Cummins’ workshops on organic compost, two local farmers approached him saying they’d developed a remarkably simple technique using the agave plant and mesquite trees to produce incredibly inexpensive yet nutritious animal fodder.

    These two plants, which are naturally found clustered together in arid and semi-arid areas, do not require any irrigation, and the photosynthesis of the agave is among the highest in the entire world. It grows rapidly, producing massive amounts of biomass, and sequesters and stores enormous amounts of carbon, both above ground and below ground, while producing inexpensive, nutritious animal feed or forage and restoring the earth.

    As noted by Cummins, the fact that agave plants and mesquite (or other nitrogen-fixing trees) grow together naturally is nature’s way to repair eroded landscapes. The roots of the mesquite tree can reach down to 125 feet, fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, and absorbing minerals from deep in the ground.

    Agave, meanwhile, adds huge amounts of biomass to the land every year, drawing down excess CO2 from the atmosphere. It pulls nitrogen and other minerals from the ground in order to support its rapid growth, but when grown next to a nitrogen-fixing tree, you've got a biodiverse system that will continue to grow and thrive on a continuous basis.

    Fermented Agave Is an Inexpensive Animal Feed
    The fermented agave animal feed produced in this system costs only 5 cents per kilo (2.2 pounds) to make. The key is fermentation. Raw agave leaves are unpalatable and hard to digest for animals because of their levels of saponins and lectins, but once fermented, they become digestible and attractive to the animals.

    The fermentation also boosts the nutrition. I was so impressed with Cummins’ story that I harvested about 10 gallons of aloe plants and applied the process to see if it will convert to great food for my six chickens. A summary of the process is as follows:

    Cut some of the lower agave leaves off the tree and crudely chop them up with a machete. One of the farmers, Juan Frias, invented a simple machine that grinds the leaf into what looks like coleslaw.
    Place the cut-up agave leaf into a large bucket, tamping it down once filled half-way to remove oxygen. Continue filling the bucket to the top. Tamp down again and put a lid on it. (As explained further below, adding mesquite pods at an optimum rate of 20% will approximately double the protein content of the final product.)
    Let it set for 30 days. The fermentation process turns the saponins and lectins into natural sugars and carbs. The final mash will stay fresh for up to two years.
    Cummins and other Mexican organic farmers have tested the agave forgage on a variety of animals, including sheep, goats, chickens and pigs, all of which love it.

    “The importance of this is, first of all, if you're a small farmer, you can't afford alfalfa, and you can't afford hay during the dry season. It's too expensive … It makes eggs and meat too expensive in the marketplace for people to buy.

    When you start looking at … reducing feed costs by 50%, or even three quarters with this stuff that costs a nickel or a dime, then I don’t need to overgraze my animals. They'd still graze because it's good for them … but you wouldn't have to have them outdoors every day, overgrazing on pastures that are not in good shape.

    This is pretty amazing stuff … Lab analysis of just the fermented agave [shows] it's about 5% to 9% protein, which is pretty good. Alfalfa is more like 16% to 18%.

    What these farmers, who are also retired scientists, figured out is if you put 20% mesquite in your fermentation, the pods of the mesquite trees, it'll shoot the protein level up to about 18% — about the same as alfalfa.

    There's a lot of other things too that make it better than alfalfa. One of the things about alfalfa is it takes a lot of water … The agave plant uses one-twenty-sixth the amount of water to produce a gram of biomass as alfalfa.

    These desert plants have evolved over millions of years to utilize water and moisture in a really efficient way … The opening in the leaves, called the stomata … only opens at night, after sunset.

    These plants literally suck the moisture out of the air all night long, and then when daybreak comes, the stomata closes up … They can go years with no rain, and they can survive pretty harsh temperatures … [and] there's not one chemical required in this whole process. This whole process is inherently organic.”

    Added Benefits
    An organic certifier is now evaluating one of the operations using this agave feed process, which may go a long way toward creating less expensive organics. For example, rather than spending 45 cents per kilo for organic chicken feed, chicken farmers can cut that down to between 5 and 10 cents per kilo.

    In the end, that will make organic free-range chicken and eggs far more affordable for the average consumer. Ditto for pork, sheep and goat products.

    Additional benefits include improved immune function in the animals — similar to that seen in humans eating a lot of fermented foods. What’s more, about 50% of the fermented agave feed is water, which means the animals don’t need to be watered as much.

    Cummins and other organic farm advocates are now trying to convince the Mexican reforestation program to get involved as well. This would solve several problems. First, it’s difficult to reforest in arid climates, which includes 60% of Mexico, as even mesquite trees need water in their first stage of development until they’re established. Growing agave in locations in areas that already have mesquite or other nitrogen-fixing trees would speed the process and lower the water demands.

    Secondly, growing agave and mesquite together for reforestation purposes, while incorporating facilities to create fermented agave feed for sale, farmers who aren’t willing to grow their own can still benefit from this inexpensive feed alternative. Thirdly, such a project would also help reduce rural poverty, which is what’s driving immigration into the U.S.

    “If people weren't so darn poor, which leads back to if they didn't live in such dry, degraded landscapes, they wouldn't be seeking to come to the U.S. except for a visit,” Cummins says.

    “We can solve this immigration problem. We can solve this problem of rural poverty. Many of these small farmers, they can't even afford to eat their own animal, like the lamb, on a regular basis.

    They have it for celebrations, but they should be able to eat lamb burgers on a regular basis in the rural countryside. Now, they will be able to. In the long run, if we restore the landscape, things like corn, beans and squash will grow again …”

    Yet another little cottage industry is also starting to grow around agave. Its fibers are very strong, so people are now starting to make lightweight construction blocks or bricks from it.

    Lastly, Cummins estimates that with 2.5 million agave plants planted on 30,000 acres over the next decade, they’ll be able to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions created by San Miguel county right now.

    More Information
    To learn more about how regenerative agriculture can help solve many of the problems facing the world right now, be sure to pick up a copy of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal.”

    “This regenerative practice in dry lands is a game changer,” Cummins says. “There are practices in wetlands and in the global North, [where] we're already seeing things like a holistic management of livestock and biointensive organic practices.

    It's all these practices together — the best practices from the different parts of the world, different ecosystems — that are going to make a difference.”
    Last edited by onawah; 1st March 2020 at 17:42.
    Each breath a gift...

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