ICSA, Gabe Brown and Regenerating the soil and our food system

The Idaho Center For Sustainable Agriculture had it’s annual Conference on November 18th at the civic center in Nampa again this this year. Lots of good speakers and topics, not the least of which was Joel Salatin.

However, as a farmer trying to regenerate the soil, Gabe Brown’s talk was the highlight for me.

Gabe talked about the five keys he uses to build topsoil on his farm…

Least amount of tillage possible (We don’t plow the soil and why we should plow our earnings back into the local economy)

Living root as long as possible (Promoting life wherever and whenever possible)

Armor on the soil (Keeping the rain from washing away our precious soil)

As much diversity of species as possible (At times he plants 70 species in a cover crop)

Integration of livestock into the system (rotationally grazed of course)


A very interesting book you may or may not know about is by Dr. David Montgomery called Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. Dr. Montgomery talks about how all the civilizations such as the Incas and the Romans, their rise and fall occurred because of the degradation of their soil resource. When asked,, ‘How long do we have as a nation before this occurs to us?’ And without blinking an eye, he said, ‘Less than 50 years.’ He said, ‘We cannot continue on this path of degrading our resources like we have.’… [N]o-till is a piece; cover-cropping is a piece; diversity is a piece; and livestock integration is a piece. We have to bring all of these things together.”

We have to set our bar higher than sustainability. We must REGENERATE what we used to have!


ICSA’s website