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This book seems to have become a must read for anyone wanting to practice no-till and improve their soil. Having practiced some occasional no-till drilling in the last 30 years in Autumn 2018 I started to practice the technique more widely across my farming. One part of the technique I know I need to expand my knowledge is the use of cover crops and there is a good chunk of text about cover crops. However the book is a much wider read about how the author came to farm the way he does today and how he has developed a diversified vertically integrated business he has today. There are lessons in that for all farmers. I particularly enjoyed the part about working with interns, or what we would call harvest students, and the things that they manage to do through lack of experience and perhaps some misunderstanding just like we get at home sometimes. Also some useful thoughts on succession planning. Overall an enjoyable read full of useful information, just got to work out how to apply it to my own situation.
This is an absolutely cracking book about farming and opening your eyes to possibilities... Way too many farmers do exactly what their grandfathers did, without sitting back and saying “is this a good idea”?
He’s turned the soil around but more importantly turned the business around too, there is little point in doing stuff that isn’t profitable .....
It was depressing he could drive 650 miles and see only one farmer doing something different, and they were all following a failing pattern,
The first half of the book is a dramatic tale about the struggle to change a destructive way of treating the soil - to a wonderful productive and in all ways enriching business. The second half is more informative in technical details.
Soil. It’s what it’s all about. Gabe Brown tells his story of leaving behind unprofitable conventional farming and then experimenting and succeeding with Regenerative ideas to improve soil health (building nutrients, microbes and fungi), cutting out artificial fertilisers, pesticides etc (saving big expense) to end up with a profitable resilient enterprise. Inspiring stuff for farmers struggling with the “same old same old” relying on Govt handouts to pay the bills: they just need to be willing to give it a try. Buy it now!!
I bought this book after it was recommended by Charlie Burrell on one of the Knepp Rewilding YouTube videos. It didn't let him down. What Gabe Brown has achieved by working with nature instead of against it is pretty remarkable. The oil/chemical companies would have us believe that the world will end without us pouring their products into the soil as fast as they can be made, when in fact the polar opposite is true!! Where have we heard this before? Anyone remember the suppressed Exxon report into Global Warming? If the governments of the world would make lobbying illegal, then maybe renewable agriculture would have a much higher chance of near total acceptance. However, at the moment the various politicians in the food chain stand to lose way to much "backing" if they were to ban or severely limit use of so many external inputs into farming.
One of the most eye opening things to come out of this book is that a carrot is not the same as another carrot. That their nutritional content can be so vastly different depending upon how and where it is grown, even if it is the same variety. It makes sense when you think about it, but I would bet that 99% of people don't realise this and are happily pumping their children full of tainted vegetables that are quite possibly doing more harm than good.
One negative that I noticed in this book is right at the end, in the conclusion section. Gabe spends the entire book giving evidence and expertise as to why his methods work, what other people can do and to achieve similar outcomes. I am completely bought into his talent as a farmer, and as someone who understands what he is doing. Then he goes and says something totally ridiculous by saying that it's god that did it and then he thanks an imaginary being. Barking mad. He's just spent most of his adult life being a very inquisitive and experimental person, then explains that his invisible best friend is responsible. When will people simply accept that they are responsible for their own greatness. Not some ancient mythical nonsense.
Holistic management seems to be the only way large scale agriculture can operate in a way that is in harmony with nature. Dirt to soil is a journey of how this can be done and done well. If you're interested in sustainable or regenerative agriculture this is a must read.
Gabe Brown's work is spreading across food producing communities. His style is readable: his success inspiring, but at the same time accessible to all. This is the result of an understanding of how natural cycles function, business sense, and hard work. It is a must for all food producers and land custodians large and small.