Starting in the French countryside (L), Franck Groeneweg has farmed his way around the world, building robust experience in no-till and regenerative farming. After selling the farm he and his wife built on the prairies of Saskatchewan, his family moved to Montana’s Big Sky country where they now farm (R). Photo by: Franck Groeneweg

‘Biohacking’ Fertility to Eliminate Synthetic Inputs

After farming in 5 countries, no-tiller’s latest challenge is relying on soil biology to feed crops, rather than synthetic inputs

By: Franck Groeneweg

As interviewed by Martha Mintz

The regenerative practices we implement on our family’s Three Forks, Mont., farm today began germinating when I was a farm kid in France

Those swelling seeds of interest were nurtured and strengthened as I tried my hand at farming across the world. I’ve raised crops in France, Iowa, Saskatchewan and now Montana. I’ve even volunteered managing farms in Haiti. The ability to adapt to each of those environments is certainly being put to the test as I focus on fully leveraging the capabilities of soil biology to provide nutrients for dryland Montana crops.

I grew up on a 500-acre small grain dryland farm in France. I always intended to farm, and my interest was drawn to the wide-open spaces, big equipment and scale of farming in the U.S. My interest was confirmed when I had the opportunity to work on an Iowa farm in the fall of 1994 at 17 years old. I didn’t find huge acreages and multiple combines in the field there like the farm papers wrote about, but I found people I really liked. I clicked with the mentality of small-farm America. I knew I’d be back.

“Not every regenerative practice fits every situation…”

Just a few years later, I had the chance to farm with a family in northwest Iowa. They had the same last name as me and unofficially adopted me into their family. They were no-tilling soybeans into corn stalks using a 15-foot John Deere 750…

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Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.

Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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