“As a dairy nutritionist, when we started growing super quality forages, I took that same concept and that’s how I do soils. I treat soils like you’re going to treat a cow …” – Gary Zimmer, biological farmer, Lone Rock, Wis.
Gary Zimmer is known as the “father” of biological farming, a system in which farmers work hand-in-hand with nature to create healthy mineralized soils to produce pest- and disease-resistant crops while reducing chemical inputs. Zimmer operates Otter Creek Organic Farm in southwestern Wisconsin, following a rotation of 1 year of corn and 1 year of soil building using a cover crop of cereal rye, alfalfa and four types of clover. Zimmer also co-founded Midwestern BioAg, a company specializing in advancing the biological farming methods he developed. In addition, he manages the organic farmland at Taliesin, the estate of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
For this episode of the No-Till Farmer podcast, I met up with Gary on the Taliesin grounds where he talked about his system of biological farming. He explains that while he is not a strict no-tiller, he limits the amount and type of tillage he does so as to avoid disturbing what he calls the “middle zone,” where most root growth takes place. He explains why he focuses on soil building before anything else, how feeding soils is rather like feeding cows, the differences between green carbon and brown carbon, why it’s important to use neutral pH fertilizers, and much more.
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Intro Music: Adam Selzer - True North
Interlude Music: Alialujah Choir - Little Picture (Instrumental)