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If the mindset does not change and the way you look at your soil and the way you look at the whole system, you will not pick up the skills.”

— Ray Archuleta, Soil Scientist, Soil Science Society of America

For this episode of the No-Till Farmer Influencers & Innovators Podcast, brought to you by Martin-Till, listen to No-Till Innovator Ray Archuleta’s presentation from the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference, a powerful talk that earned him a standing ovation from hundreds of no-tillers. In this session, Archuleta explores the true power of biologicals in the soil and discusses how regenerative agriculture can become more widespread.  

We hope you’ll join us at the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference Jan. 9-12 in Indianapolis to hear more great presentations like this one. Click here for more information and to register.

If you are interested in more no-till history, you’ll find great stories like these and many more in the newly released 448-page second edition of From Maverick to Mainstream: A History of No-Till Farming that includes 32 more pages than the first edition. Order your copy here.

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Full Transcript

Mackane Vogel:

Welcome to the No-Till Farmer Influencers and Innovators Podcast, brought to you by Martin-Till. I'm Mackane Vogel, assistant editor of No-Till Farmer.

For today's episode, listen to No-Till Innovator Ray Archuleta's presentation from the 2023 National No-Tillage Conference, a powerful talk that earned him a standing ovation from hundreds of no-tillers. In this session, Archuleta explores the true power of biologicals in the soil, and discusses how regenerative agriculture can become more widespread.

Ray Archuleta:

You guys are awesome. Wow.

I'm going to tell you a story I told Darrell. I said, "Darrell, who in the world put me at the last speaker?" I said, "First, it's really tough to be a speaker." And I said, "Darrell, human beings can, well, listen for about three, four or five, six hours and they shut down. Okay? That's just being brutally honest." I said, "What did I do wrong to be at the last hour?" And he says, "Oh, Ray, don't worry. They'll come." And I said, "Yeah, what are you going to do? Wrap a steak around me in dollar bills?" Bless your heart.

Before I start, I want you to please, I want you to please give yourselves a hand for being here, for being committed learners. I'm going to tell you... You know how I tell when people are very, very committed? One, they're willing to give up their money. Two, they're willing to give up their time, and that's very precious. So thank you so much. Let's give you guys a hand. You guys are awesome.

Now, David Brandt, where's the godfather of soil health? Where's he at? David, I can't see you because I'm blinded. There's David. David, this talk really got inspired from the workshop. David, what month did we go to your place? And it was last summer, right?

Okay, we went and last summer, David, and how many went to his workshop, by the way, that time? What I did is I asked this question. And I was dismayed because I really thought that the people that came to listen to us have heard us many times and heard this message. And this was the question I asked the group, and I'm going to ask you guys the same question. And before I do that, please understand, if I go over time today, maybe five or 10 minutes, please stay. And if you have questions, this is your time.

Then we can always have drinks, and we will. If you want to do drinks here and ask questions, this is your time. We got people like Barry Fisher here. We got all kinds. This is your time. So here's the question I asked. How many of you, producers, have calibrated your soils? First they go, "What the world's calibrate?" Have actually put a check strip on their farms and did zero fertilizer, half-rate fertilizer, and full rate fertilizer? Please rate... Oh, for three years, using the Haney test. Raise your hand. How many of you have done what David Brandt has done, and done variety checks of all kinds, to see which crops do best in our biological systems? Raise your hand. That's going to determine if you ever want freedom, freedom from the banks, freedom from the government, and the ability to bring your families back onto the farm and ranch, and most importantly, to also to bring the healing of communities all over the world. You guys are going to be the beacon of hope, and we're going to start with this talk. I call it The Power of the Plant.

And let's start off because this is important, folks. And I think Barry and some of us that have been traveling a lot, we understand how degraded our planet is. Our planet is in very, very bad shape. I have been in every state, from Alaska to Hawaii to Puerto Rico, to Mexico, to Canada. In a couple of months, next 3, 4, 5 months, we're going to South Africa, Venezuela, Colombia. And why? Because the people are demanding and asking for help, because they are under an incredible burden of the cost of inputs, and the system is not working. We have spread our technology all over the world. Banks, other institutions from Latin America have come and say, "We need help." And Kiss the Ground documentary has allowed that message to go all over the world. Let's continue down this path.

Now, there is four things I want us to focus on. And this is a common thing I have seen all over our country, ladies and gentlemen, and I started finding a pattern that our educational system, my lack of understanding, all of us have experienced this, and this is the common pattern I see what has happened to our producers. Number one, they do not understand the concept of relationship and connectedness. What does that mean? Everything in the natural system is connected. We are connected. We are a collective whole. We're going to talk about the butterfly effect. How everything you do on the farm is connected, and the impact is incredible. So you have to be very cautious and very intentional how you do business.

Number two, I'm beginning to realize that a lot of our people, and we keep teaching our great schools all over the world, and still being taught, we do not believe that the soil is alive. The soil is alive just like you. It breathes. It reproduces. It runs on intelligent design. If you don't understand that. I cannot help you.

The next one, the goal. I heard a lot about the misunderstanding of the goal in this whole conference. We think that our goal is to be a no-tiller. That is not the goal, ladies and gentlemen. Our goal is not your neighbor. The goal is not no-till. It's to emulate the incredible design.

And then the last one, why do we have a young man that we just saw in the first, Russell Hedrick, and why some of these farmers stick out more than others? Why are they so different than a lot of other producers? Are they any smarter? No. Their mindset is different and we're going to talk about that.

Now before, so we can understand connectedness and understand how intricate and how complex your job is, I'm going to tell you, farmers, one of the things that makes me cringe more than ever is when I hear a farmer say, "I'm just a farmer. I am just a rancher." Ladies and gentlemen, you do the most complex job in the world. Engineering is easy. Being a physicist is easy. Try working with a system that runs on chaos. What do I mean by chaos? Chaos. Mathematical chaos is this, folks. Nature is unpredictable. Yes, your wife is unpredictable. Your husband is unpredictable. Even your dog, they run on chaos. What does that mean? Non-linear. Nature is not predictable. How many of you have experienced that through the weather? Right. So what does chaos mean?

It was a great mathematician. By the way, if you want an interesting read, it's called Chaos by James Gleick. It hit the New York Best Time. It is fascinating. This is how chaos. In fact, this is the new science called quantum mechanics, quantum entanglement. So what does that mean? For many, many years, Newtonian and Einstein said, "Hey, this is the physics, the trajectory of a bullet, the way the orbits of the suns and the moons." That's plain physics. We are now experiencing quantum physics. Quantum physics is down into the subatopic. It is the metal physical realm that holds our planet together in every ion, every molecule in your body. It was this man, Mr. Lorenz, who came up with a concept of this, the butterfly effect. What does that mean?

The butterfly effect is this, folks. Can the flapping of a butterfly, moving its wings and moving the air molecules under its wings, in Brazil, can it create a tornado in Kansas? The answer is yes. What does that mean? That the tiny changes in through the whole biological system has it connected can have a huge outcome. All of you have experienced the butterfly effect, and I'll explain that in a second. Let me show you what happens.

Dr. Lorenz was working, and these were the type of computers back in the 1960s [inaudible] old, cold computers. All of a sudden, the computer went down. It was serendipitous, providential that that thing went down. He had 12 parameters of the weather. He was a brilliant mathematician and a great meteorologist. He was brilliant. In fact, he was very recluse, people would say, but he was a genius. So thing went down because what he did is he wanted to measure the weather. So he put 12 parameters, barometric pressure, temperature, blah blah blah. So he would do a bunch of computer runs. And then, guess what happened? Computer went down. So he says, "Well, what I'll do, because it won't make a difference, I'll set it for the printer decimals." Because what he did, when he read the temperatures, he read all the barometric pressures. He ran it all the way to six decimals. But he decided, "Ah, I don't have time. I'm going to grab a coffee. I'm going to run it to three decimals. One part in a thousand.

To his astonishment, this what's happened. One change in a part, instead of reading it, 96.346, whatever it was, it made a huge change, whether the weather machine would predict, the computer would predict sun or rain. And he was startled. It had huge implications. In fact, scientists, when you get two-three day weather, they have to use 10 to 15 models, just to get close. After the third day, folks, long forecast are worthless. Dr. Lorenz made this statement. If you took all the computers and had super computers, and you took all the instrumentation error and you spread the sensors one foot apart and made them the height of Mount Everest, you will still not predict the weather. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the kind of system you deal with every day. Farming and wrenching is complex. It is a miracle to me that we even get food on the table. Let me show you how the butterfly effect works in your life.

In the sixth grade, my dad said, "Son, you are going to go to the private school." That little butterfly effect changed my whole life, because at sixth grade, if I would've gone to the public school, they would've shot me with my big mouth. Barry Fisher, he would remind you of that. But I went to a private school. And all the kids in the private school went to college. Marrying my wife Sonya, who's amazing woman, a kiss from heaven, I couldn't be here. All of you have had butterfly effects in your life, and you do not realize it has changed the trajectory of your life. Does it matter the little things that we do in our operation? Yes, they do. The moment you move that cow one more time, it makes a difference. The moment you put that cover crop, it makes a difference. Let me show you.

People way back then understood this concept. This parable was said 200 or 300 years ago, and it goes like this. For a want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For the want of a horse, the rider was lost. For the want of a rider, the message was lost. For the want of a message, the battle was lost. And for a want of the battle, the kingdom was lost, all for the lack of a horseshoe nail. Now, if we put that same parable, for the want of a plant, we lost the field. For the want of a field, we lost the region from erosion. We lost of the region. We lost the climate. And we lose the earth, all for the lack of a plant. Does it make that difference? Yes, it does.

I used to think that people can't make a big difference, that one person. That is a big fat lie. We all have the capacity to change the world. I would've never believed that. Right, Barry Fisher, when we started this soil health movement, and all the opposition that happened? So here's where we're going to start this journey, the power of the plant. David, why I was so inspired because we, and when I sit and listen to this conference and I go speak, we still do not understand the power of that cover crop of that plant and what it does for us. Let's observe what is going on.

When global warming came up, the first thing they blamed was the car, everything that we do industrial. I'm not saying that does not impact. But we took something incredibly out of the equation that we have not talked about. Do we know that over 20 to 29% of the land, globally, has no plants and it is bare. How is that affecting the climate? Do you think that affects the climate? Yes. Folks, the whole planet was once vegetated, and we have systematically denuded it. Let me show you.

As I fly across the country, look at the urban. Look at the agriculture. Those who have a farm around those heat sinks, guess what they experienced? Less rain. This is a problem that we have not talked about. But the solution is incredibly simple. Folks, when the land, you are using these brittle environments and we do not have the land covered and you have no aggregation, this is what happens.

I don't care. I have seen no-till fail in the far west, between Colorado and that whole area. It was a prairie. It was covered 24/7. It's a brittle environment. And I tell people, "Can you see all the conservation plants? Can you see all the Ph degrees? Can you see all the certifications blowing? And we still haven't fixed it.

This is a slide I created years ago. The soil is naked because in biblical times, to be naked, it was a shame. It's hungry because it's not being fed with a living plant. It's thirsty because the water is evaporating. The temperatures in these type of soils in bare ground, 150. And you're creating sensible heat and pushing rain clouds away. This is part of our global warming. And then what's running a fever.

And I call this, not global warming, global ignorance and global disconnectedness from our people, including myself. This is an incredible model that we don't realize that over 40% of our rain comes from living plants. That's called the small water cycle. 60% comes from the ocean. When the Kiss the Ground documentary came up, they said, "Well, Ray's making that stuff up." Hydrologists, engineers. This is well-known. What would our planet look like without a plant? What do you think would happen, audience? You got it. That's our planet. Please understand, without living plants, we cannot regulate the climate. There'd be no climate. The plants are so critical to what we have in our farming. And you imagine, if we had a movement that every ground, all the acres of the United States was covered in green, during the fall and spring, would we make an impact? Absolutely.

Now, here are the four ecosystem processes. When I walk out on the field, that's the first thing I bring out a shovel, and these are the first things I realized in my Watch Your Ground is these four things have to happen in every square inch of your field. Every square inch of your farm. The first one is how much sun are you capturing? Does the water cycle work? And if I don't have living plants, you don't have a functional water cycle because you're not building aggregates. Now you don't have a nutrient cycle. And then I call the diversity of life the software of the planet. You see this phone. This computer is worthless without software. Please understand the software that runs your farm. It's called biodiversity. The more insects, the more animals, the more plants, the more efficient your farm will run.

When I first understood that the plant and soil are one, I was in my bedroom. And I come running out, and I was reading a textbook from a scientist, [inaudible] "The soil and plant are one." And my wife looked at me, she goes, "And I married you." But it was so profound to me. You take the plant, you have no microbe. You take the plant and the microbe, you do not have soil. You have geology. Please understand the profoundness of that. You know what the ancients used to call the plant? The mouth of the soil. You know what that is? Stamata. They're breathing.

Don't they look like human mouth and lips? Do you know what they're doing, folks? They are bringing CO2. They are conduits of life. And the more I have that happening, the more I'm capturing CO2 and feeding liquid sun unto my microbes. You know what's so cool, guys? You guys have the best Ponzi scheme going on. Think about it. You're selling air. You capture sun and you sell air. When that 12-foot corn, a majority of that biomass, 95% comes from the air. Only 5% comes from the soil. When you look at your soil test, have you ever wondered why they do it in parts per million? Most of it comes from the air. I never understood that.

Why would corn and soybean never be regenerative without cover crops? These are prairie grasses that they once were, capturing sun 24/7, leaking exudates and changing and feeding microbes 24/7. Corn. With a third of the land, never seen roots, and you have a dead zone here, not feeding microbes. And then worse in soybean. So we're asking, how are you picking? Because nature works with biological information. And feeding microbes, you're starving the soil in between that. And then you do no cover crop. And then we wonder why our system requires so much inputs. Because remember, the soil runs on liquid sun. Let me show you a system.

That is a system of Michael Thompson. He runs cover crops, integrates grazing animals, and he's no-till. Look at the life, where he's not having to do very, very little of buying fertility. This is what I want. This is no-till, high input, anhydrous, chemical fertilizer, pesticides, no covers. Do you see any organisms? You might see a couple of bacteria running from one place to the other. You know what that slide shows me the first time? This is financial freedom. This is not freedom, from the bank and from anybody else. If you want freedom, you have to have cycling, so that the soil provides the majority of the cycling, folks. Please understand your context. All of our soils came from forest and prairies, and they once looked like this.

This is a spectrum in conventional no-till. All these type of systems have degraded this far. I'm talking no-till without covers. And I am the biggest advocate for no-till. But that is my number one thing I would tell you to do first is covers. Who cares if you leave live in a dilapidated home if you're starving to death? Your workers are starving.

Now, how many of you knew that the soil had a design? The soil has design. That's the design. It has a skin called detritusphere. I don't expect you to remember that. Skin. It's got a phyllosphere. What's phyllo? It's the roots. There's microbes living on top of the roots of every... I mean, the plant surface of the leaves. It's got a drilosphere. When I dig, I want to see all those areas of influence and aggregates. Aggregates are this. It's the biological fusion of sand, silt and clay, geology. But microbes do that. They create the biotic glues with the fungi and the roots.

So when I dig a shovel, I want to see a very well-aggregated. I want to see skin. I see root. And then I want to see pores. All of them are connected. That is spheres of influence. That's the design. First thing I look in the shovel, let me show you how it looks.

This is 50 year no-till, with no covers. Tennessee, 50 years. Look at the stratification. How many times have I heard or hear, "We got to plow up to strata. Get rid of the stratification." Do no-till fields without covers and biology stratify? Yes, they do. How do I fix it? Three years of covers. Can you tell the difference now? You know what they do in Tennessee? They're covers. They've been growing covers that are six foot tall, multi-species, no-till, and look what happened in three years.

You know the number one question people ask me, "Well, Ray, how long does it take?" How intentional are you? Three years and they changed that soil. That's the same soil, folks. I do not want to use chemical and physics to change the soil. You can't do it. Biology does it. They transform it. People ask me, "Well, I only disk that first couple of inches." Those are your factory workers, the ones on top. They break the residue. If you have a residue problem, you have a biology problem. Do you think you would have stratification here? So the more you nuke it with anhydrous, the more you use more salts, the more you disk it, the more you till it, the more you screw up the most important 80% of all the biological activity, a good percentage are on the top two, three inches.

80% of all insects continue their lifecycle right there. Now you screwed up the pest-predator relationship because you have no skin. This is the way the forest and the prairies, and when you do no-tilling covers, and you are not disturbing, you have the same thing going on for you. They are the ones that will change your life. They are the butterfly effect that will get you free from all the inputs. You know what I love about these earthworms? They show up to work on time.

Mackane Vogel:

We'll come back to the episode in a moment. But first, I'd like to thank our sponsor, Martin-Till, for supporting today's podcast.

As farmers themselves, the people at Martin-Till know the frustration that unforeseen obstacles can bring, especially the weather. While no one can control drought or untimely rains, Martin-Till can help equip your planner to allow for more time spent planting and less time waiting to get seed in the ground. Thank you for considering Martin-Till products.

And now, let's get back to the conversation.

Ray Archuleta:

So what's killing us? What is hurting us and stopping from being very profitable? Let's really call tillage what it is. Tillage side. The Latin word to kill. Pesticides are to kill pests. Folks, when I work with producers, I slowly wean them off the inputs. Am I against tools? No, I am not. I don't want you walking away, saying, "Oh, Ray's against fertilizers, herbicides." No, they're tools. What I am against is you going broke. That's what I'm against. And we are getting sicker and sicker as a people, and we lost two years of life expectancy in the United States, because our foods are not nutrient-rich anymore.

Now, this is a soil food web. Soil food web is the interconnectedness on how all these microbes and all these organisms are working. Please understand the difference between acute stress and chronic stress. What do I mean by that? If you go eat fast food all the time, that is chronic stress to your body. If you want to understand how the soil works, your body works the same way, works the same way. Your body cannot handle chronic stress, folks. You were designed to handle acute stress.

Now, if you screwed up your field, and you had to do an occasional tillage, can your soil handle it? Yes. Can it handle a glyphosate application? Yes. And the healthier it is, the better. Because I have a lot of people in the organic say, "But, Ray, they're not regenerative because they use chemicals." I said, "Excuse me, did you not know that in Chernobyl, just recently, they found a fungi that eat radiation. But what our planet cannot handle, you continually spraying all the time and continue tillage. It cannot handle it." So if you take one organism out, just one, butterfly effect, then you affect that organism, then the whole system collapse, and you write another check. Look at the biodiversity in the forest, tropical forest. Look at Africa. Look at Iowa. Please understand that nature runs on bio information. What is bio information?

Every insect, every microbe, you communicate biologically. When we have kids, we send our DNA, that's bio communication. Every pollen grain, every secretion, bio communication. I need those insects on my farm. First thing I want to hear is when I walk on your place, I want to hear it. I want see the beauty. I want to see the soil. How many have done this, have actually dug right on your fence corner, on your edge of your fence and your field? Please do it. It'll frighten you. How many have done it right next to your forest and your fields? You want to be brutal? You want to really know the truth? Do that. And I'm going to tell you and guarantee you that a majority of your time, you're going to be very disappointed.

If it wasn't for a shovel, I would've never convinced some of the most toughest producers that they were going down the wrong path. Just a shovel. This is important for you guys to realize. Nature is self-healing, self-regulating, self-organizing. What does that mean? Your body does that all the time. The moment your body stops doing any self-regulation, any self-organization, you die. You get sick. The soil's the same way. So think about it, when you disk that soil and you screw up that first three inches, it's going to have to self-organize again. It's going to have to go through a self-healing mechanism again. You created that, so you spend all kinds of energy doing that whole system over and over again. So you please need to understand that.

Okay, so what's the goal? I never realized, when we first started rolling cover crops back in 2007. Ray Styers mentored me. He was rolling covers since the 1980s. It dawned on me about halfway through the trip, through this whole rolling covers, I said, "Oh my gosh, we're mimicking the forest and the prairie." We're mimicking the forest and the prairie. How's that? They have a continuous skin on both systems all the time. Why does the forest and prairie always have a skin? Weed suppression? Regulating the temperatures for the microbes and its next year's nutrient cycling? That skin is critical. And when you roll that cover crop, you are actually mimicking the forest and the prairie. I'm going to show you a little bit about Alejandro's ranch.

Look, I knew we could heal cropland. I had no qualm that we could heal cropland. My concern growing, up in the West, how in the world are we going to heal billions of acres of range land? It wasn't until Alejandro's Carrido's ranch. I went out there. So this is how Alejandro did it. See, I couldn't believe it, when I came to his ranch, what they were doing. There's a research paper called Mobile Link Species, where you get species and organisms from one area that's degraded that's functioning, and you move the organisms to another area, and you start the four ecosystem processes. So they took one part of the ranch, moved the animals frequently, and they cycle them around the rainy season. They're moving 500 cows with these two Terramara cowboys, and they move them 800 times a year. Two cowboys move 600 cows, and he moves them like a mob, by he's mimicking nature like the buffalo and the bison.

You know when I came from there, I've been there four times. I'm going to tell you the story that actually happened. When I drive to my parents from Missouri, I am in a very teary mood because I see the whole West looks degraded like this. And I could not believe that Alejandro's ranch, 40 miles from a paved road that looks like that. I was shocked. You know what Alejandro taught me? No more excuses. They're moving fans up hills. They created their own and they have no government help, no cost share. They have no help at all. You know what they have the help of? Community. They help each other.

Another thing Alejandro taught me, look at this. This is an actual photo. This is Alejandro's ranch on his side. This is the neighbor. Who's getting rain? This is an alarm that he has on his iPhone, showing that his ranch is getting rain. He has changed the regional area and changed the climate in his area, on his ranch. Masanobu, if you ever read all his books, he's worth reading. He says, "It was an American desert that I suddenly realized that rain does not fall from the heavens, it comes from the ground. Desert formation is not due to the opposite of rain, but that rain ceases to fall because the vegetation has disappeared." Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you, we have created our own climate problems because we lack vegetation. Alejandro says his system runs on resilience, on animal impact, long rest periods and adaptive genetics. What makes Alejandro different? What makes Russell different? What makes some of you different here than other producers? The mindset.

First, they understand the goal. They never forget the goal. Two, if you're going to do... The natural system only wants you to do three things, folks. I took the soil health principles and I broke them down to really three things. Limit your chemical and physical disturbances. Careful with anhydrous. Careful with the fertilizers. Careful with the pesticides. Careful with the tillage. And the other thing it wants is, "Feed me with living diverse plants, insects and animals." And if you are using biologicals, increasing more biological communication, more power to you. Here are the two fixed mindsets. This one is fixed. This is growth. Do you know what the major thing is here? Does not take criticism well. When you criticize a person with growth mindset, thank you. What can I do to change and make it better? They're not predetermined. They're determined. They think it's all talent. It is not. It's being perseverance. That is a dynamic mindset, growth mindset. Read the book, but here's the next one.

This was a perfect example of a growth mindset by Les Seiler, Fulton County. I went out there and we dug, and there was Les. He was so excited. "Look at my corn, Ray." His soils looked... He had these dark black soils, and I walked through the corner right there and I got the grass, and I said, "Les, look at your aggregation. Look at your corn." Do you know what Les said? "I screwed up my soil. I'm going to work on that." He didn't make excuses. He didn't complain. He took the critique and said, "I'm going to make it better." Humility. You know what I've learned in this journey of being a farmer and rancher? Humility. To sit and listen to the critique and don't take it personally, don't identify. Folks, if the mindset does not change, and the way you look at your soil, and the way you look at the whole system, you will not pick up the skills.

You know what I'm so proud of every one of you? Because you came and spend your money to pick up skill sets. You are a different mindset here. A majority of you are. Then you use the no-till and the cover crop, and you use the animals correctly. These are the books I recommend. Mindset and Grit. You know what I found out after I read that book? I got a lot of passion, but I may not have a lot of perseverance. Let me show you perseverance that Russell Hedrick. Nobody knows this about Russell, but he shared this story with me.

He was running out of time in December. It was late. His fields were wet. He had 20 acres left to do the cover crop. He went to the local ACE hardware store and bought a bunch of seeders and hired a bunch of high school kids, and he seeded the 20 acres by hand. That's perseverance. That's why he's the dry land champion of the world. He's not any more smarter than anybody in here, but he does not give up that young man. And he's willing to share. How many of people would share the information that Russell did? Do you remember? Most people would not share it. That's what I love about you, regenerative farmers, you're givers.

Another one is, find your why. Why do you ranch and farm? You know I said that in one group. You know what the farmers said? "Well, to make money." No. That's an outcome. Is your purpose in life as the Creator puts you is so that you can be a steward on His planet, and so that you can reflect His glory and take care of the animals and be a steward. That is our calling. It is the most sacred calling ever on this planet. How many understood that the Garden of Eden was the first temple? The second temple of God was laced with imagery from the Garden of Eden. Do you know what our job is, folks, is to bring this planet and make it a garden again. That is our job, and I believe it and I'm so excited. If you are determined to get free and do your own research, do not wait for the university. Do not wait for NRCS. Wait for no one.

How many of you are doing... I already asked you how many of you are doing check strips and doing your own variety checks? They're not Dave Brandt. Dave's doing it. Russell, that young man, some of the things he doesn't talk about, I'm going to brag on him because he will never say this. He didn't grow up farming. Diesel mechanic, fireman, 10 years he's the national champion. He's a farmer scientist. He does research all the time on his operation. He networks. When you read the article about him, you know what he said? He gave the glory to all the people that helped him on the way up. He shared. He didn't say, "Look at me Russell." He always remembered, when we helped him, you share it with others, and he has. He manages the details. He's tenacious. He understands how the soil works. He's careful with the disturbances.

You know, I will be honest with you. I told him, "Russell, when you did this," I said this, "I don't know if, Russell, you're going to send the wrong message." And when he won, I was so glad. You know why? For many years, we heard no-till will not yield, right? Boy, he disproved that wrong. Cover crops don't work. He disproved that wrong. PLFA. Soil test that we brought into 2011 by ARSUSDA was tried. Many have tried to get rid of that soil test. That test helped him determine how much nutrients he had and Rick Haney designed that test for that.

And the last one, community. Here's another young man that I want you to watch. This is Jay Young, Kansas. 207 bushel corn, no nitrogen, no phosphorus for two years straight. Johnson Su, bioreactor, microbes, check strips, no-till, covers, animal integration. There's his bioreactors. You know who convinced me finally of biologicals? Dr. David Johnson. Spent a whole day. Microbes are so powerful, they bio communicate and stimulate things in that soil that is incredible. I think we have lost soil organisms after hundreds and hundred years of farming. They're probably not present anymore. And through the bioreactor, we can bring that bio communication back to that soil. But David Johnson will tell you, "If you think you're going to do it with just microbes, you are wrong. It is no-till, covers, animal integration, and the biologicals." Ladies and gentlemen, why has the soil health movement have not grown and why has it been so difficult?

Here's the context. One of the most difficult things to overcome is social conditioning. What is social conditioning? We learned it in our families. We learned it in our universities. We learned it in our schools. We learned it in our jobs. We learned it in our community. What does social conditioning mean? It is this, folks. And then what happens? We do mindless obedience because we follow the group like sheep. It's called social conditioning. How many experience that, in your work, in your church, in your communities, your own family? Remember when you first wanted to go no-till and covers, how did they treat you? Are you an idiot? That's social conditioning, folks.

Homework assignment, please go on YouTube and type The Milgram Experiment. This professor did an experiment and wanted to know, why were the Germans willing to kill 6 million Jews, and why did they follow the order? It's only about eight or 10 minutes, and you will understand the rawness of human nature. And you'll find out that over 60 to 70% administered a lethal dose and killed people because somebody else told them to do it. Social conditioning. Okay, so how do we overcome social conditioning?

I have my own personal way. This is the way I overcome social conditioning, because I will tell you, when I first started, I mean, when we started soil health movement, and I almost lost my job, and I was abandoned, never got phone calls, nobody called. And I got an opportunity to improve, and I only got six months left to prove or I was going to lose my pension and my job. Nobody was there. Thank God my faith held me in some of my cure, but mostly my faith. And this is what Dr. Timothy Keller has taught me about identity.

What I see in our country, we have a misunderstanding of our own identity. We have lost it, folks. You notice in America, in Europe, when you go to Europe or other parts of the world, the first thing they ask you, what is your name? Where are you from? In the United States, the first thing they go, "Name, what do you do?" Who gives a rip what you do? Who are you as a person? I started realizing how much I do that. See, when the moment you make your family, your wife, or any, your job, and you make that your true identity, and if they leave you or things fall apart, people collapse. But what Dr. Keller's told me is, "If you make your identity in God himself and you reflect His glory, and when things do fall apart, and when people yell in your face and say you're full of crap and it gets vicious, always remember, He went through that same experience."

Why am I telling you this? Because, folks, if we're going to propel this movement so we can bring healing, you're going to have to have perseverance. And I don't care what you do to have your identity, but our identity is not a farmer. That's what you do. A rancher, that's what you do. So that when somebody critiques you and criticizes you in your farming, they're not criticizing you as a person. They'll probably tell you because they love you.

Folks, I am working on a project. We know, by 2050, according to Dr. Jenkins, the New Christiandom, Africa and in South America, we will have 3 billion Christians in the world. And Christianity will decrease in the United States and Europe by 2050. Why do I care? This is personal to me. Why, if we get 2 million professing Christians and we teach them regenerative agriculture, and teach them that we are here, that God put us here to heal the planet, could we make a difference?

So I got funding for a little 12-minute trailer called Dominion to dispel some of the teachings that we've been taught. See, some scientists say that Christianity is responsible for the destruction of the planet. Because Dominion teaches we are in charge, we are special. Well, God said we are special, but we're supposed to reflect Him in love and kindness to the animals and every people, and all the people. That's what we forgot. This is my definition for regeneration, my last slide. Actually, the word regeneration, I actually got it from the ancient, from the New Testament. Regeneration means you have been given. You're a new human being. You are no longer the same person, and you have a journey for life. Regenerative agriculture, folks, is for the rest of your life. You will not figure it out.

That's why I'm telling you, work in the community. Don't do this by yourself. I am 61 years old. I may have 20 opportunities. You who are 20, you have 60 opportunities, not 60 years, because agriculture takes a long time to see the change in a year. Can you imagine if you had 10 producers who have drank the soil health Kool-Aid and you believe that nature's the way you're going to emulate, now you have 10 years in every year that you share your research and you grow together. Don't do this by yourself. It's too complex. It's too elegant. It's the renewal of the heart to mind. It's a new way of thinking that loves emulates the creation and its intelligent design, so that we can heal the human and biological communities. That's my definition, my passion, and my passion for you.

When you go back home in the next couple of days, please continue the fight, because you are the butterfly effect that will change your community. I personally want to thank you for what you do on a daily basis, and when you take the snickering and the mockery that you are so different. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for doing what you do. Thank you so much.

Mackane Vogel:

That's all for this episode of the No-Till Farmer Influencers and Innovators Podcast. Thanks to Ray Archuleta for that great presentation. We hope you'll join us at the 2024 National No-Tillage Conference, coming up January 9th through 12th in Indianapolis. To hear more thought-provoking presentations like this one, go to to register. And thanks to our sponsor, Martin-Till, for helping to make this podcast possible. A transcript of this episode, and our archive of previous podcast episodes, are both available at From our entire staff here at No-Till Farmer, I'm Mackane Vogel. Thanks for listening, keep on no-tilling, and have a great day.