Nature Loves Diversity

By Mike Moran on June 23, 2014

A philosophy that looks to nurture rather than manage the natural process of soil and plant health. Standing in a field and seeing firsthand the impact of 25 continuous years of this system, I came to the realization that this approach is somewhat akin to the philosophy of biomimicry, looking to nature to solve complex human problems.

I had the opportunity last month to visit Dr. Dwayne Beck at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm. My purpose was to learn more about the fundamentals of no-till and sustainable agriculture and meet with growers like ours in another region. What I learned is that though we speak of no-till as a distinguishing characteristic of our farmers and their agricultural practices, no-till is really one component of a larger farm management philosophy. A philosophy that looks to nurture rather than manage the natural process of soil and plant health. Standing in a field and seeing firsthand the impact of 25 continuous years of this system, I came to the realization that this approach is somewhat akin to the philosophy of biomimicry, looking to nature to solve complex human problems. Nature does not till. Another key component of a natural agricultural system is diversity. As conventional agriculture evolved into a more rigid and refined system, diversity suffered. As a result we have become accustomed to relying on higher degrees of inputs -- fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, to manage the impact of lost diversity. Both the diversity of the plants that are grown and the diversity of the soil microbes that support the plants’ ability to thrive. By focusing on the soil and the relationship of a diverse and thoughtful rotation to the health of the soil, our growers can reduce the need for inputs in the long term, while increasing the health of the land and the plants that grow there. In future emails, we will talk more about the different crops that support a healthy rotation, their unique qualities, and how they contribute to a balanced farm system. We look forward to the coming year and the ability to share more of these seeds and grains with you, and expand our support for our growers and sustainable agriculture.

Thank you for your continued support,

Mike Moran, General Manager

Karl’s Rotation

This has been a busy and exciting month. We have been meeting with producers, builders, financial backers, food brokers and everything has shone brightly on the need not only for the production and marketing of a greater diversity of rotational crops but also the for a processing facility to ensure the identity preservation that is a cornerstone of Shepherd’s Grain. For those that know me well, you know that when the stars align I do not stand around long wondering if this is the right thing to do,. I head down the pathway and look for the next challenge. Knowing that this represents a great opportunity for our growers and a bold expansion, we have launched an independent feasibility study to determine and value both the positive aspects as well as any pot holes that I may see as just a little bump. Our initial meetings have confirmed that our seemingly aggressive timetable of 18 months is realistic and actually may have four months of buffer time included. As with all projects we are prepared that those months will allow us to address any unexpected issues and delays and continue to our goal. We continue to feel very positive of our goal, our project, our capacity, and our success. Looking forward to reporting on continued progress next month.

-Karl

Focus on the Soil

Dr. Dwayne Beck manages the non-profit Dakota Lakes Research Farm. Dr. Beck is the leading authority on no-till rotational farm management systems, and has been a long time friend, and advisor to Shepherd’s Grain. Click on the link to watch an interview about the farm and Dr. Beck’s work.     Link to video