Posts Tagged: Gabe Brown

Cover Crops: Insuring Against Disaster

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

Thanks to the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill, federally subsidized crop insurance is an even bigger player in determining what the landscape looks like. That’s troubling, considering that in recent years that impact has been mostly negative, since the program removes most of the risk associated with plowing up acres formerly considered too erosive, wet… Read more »

Cover Crops: Not Just Foul Weather Friends

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog, Water.

Cover crops proved themselves foul weather friends during the Great Drought of 2012. A groundbreaking farmer survey conducted in the Upper Mississippi River watershed showed that during that year’s brutal growing season keeping the soil covered with small grains and other plants helped fields preserve enough precious moisture to provide a yield bump of, in… Read more »

Purebreds, Pluggers & Profitable Soil

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

On a recent August evening in south-central North Dakota, soil scientist Kristine Nichols laid out what I like to call the “purebred vs. the plugger” approach to farming. “With healthy soil, you may not out-yield your neighbor in the best years, but you will out perform them in the not-so-good years,” said Nichols, a soil… Read more »

Flash Flood? Flash Drought? Time for a Little Slow Soil

Posted by & filed under agriculture, climate change, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

The U.S Drought Monitor released its latest figures yesterday, verifying what we already knew: Minnesota is extremely dry. In fact, 55 percent of our state now falls under the “severe drought” or “moderate drought” category. Over 60 percent Minnesota’s subsoil moisture is “short” or “very short.” The National Drought Mitigation Center reported that in August… Read more »

Teaming With Soil Microbes (part 2)

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

Talking about the importance of feeding soil microbes is fine. Speaking with your feet is even better. “Take a closer look—anything you tramp down is just carbon in the soil,” quips soil conservationist Jay Fuhrer on a Friday afternoon in early September. As he says this, he’s beckoning some 120 farmers and others to follow… Read more »

Teaming with Soil Microbes (part 1)

Posted by & filed under agriculture, Food and Sustainable Agriculture, Loon Commons blog.

On a crisp morning in September, North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown held two handfuls of soil and searched for signs of life—theoretically not a difficult task considering one teaspoon of humus contains more organisms than there are humans in the world. But many of the bacteria and invertebrates that lurk in the dark basement of… Read more »