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Mark your calendars and plan to be in Holyoke, CO, on February 12 & 13, 2015, for an exciting, informative and motivational day with Gabe Brown and Ray Archuleta. Gabe, along with his wife, Shelly, and son, Paul, are on the leading edge of exploring alternative farming and ranching ideas. Ray is a Conservation Agronomist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. His infectious enthusiasm for soil health has earned him the moniker, Ray the Soils Guy.
“The Farming Evolution 2015” will be held at the Event Center on the fairgrounds in Holyoke, CO. Thursday, February 12 will have a farming focus while Friday will look at the ranching operation. Registration is $19 for one day or $25 for both days and includes lunch, handout materials and a social Thursday afternoon. Registration increases $6 after February 4.
When the Browns took over their ranch in 1991, there was very little plant diversity and infiltration rates were ½ inch per hour. In 2009, 13.6 inches of rain fell in 22 hours. The Browns experienced no erosion and the first 8 inches infiltrated before the rest moved off.
“You need to work with nature,” says Gabe. “You can’t impose your will, because nature wins every time.”
Gabe’s farming philosophy? “On our farm, we try to fail at something every year. How can we learn anything unless we fail? We lost our crops four consecutive years to drought or hail. Losing four crops in a row was the best thing to happen to me because it made me try different things."
It costs Gabe $1.20/bushel per acre for corn, including land cost. The U.S. average with land costs is $5.50/bushel. That should be a powerful motivator to change farming practices towards healthier soil and less reliance on inputs. "I like signing the back of checks a lot more than I do signing the front of them."
Soil is more than a medium to support plants physically. A healthy soil has a balance of nutrients (plant fuel) and an intricate biological network that works to move the “fuel” for plant life. Ray will help you decide if your “Soil Engine” has the fuel to fire on all 8 cylinders.
Ray doesn’t just talk about these ideas, he shows them at work too. He will open each day with a soil stability test comparing soil from different tillage histories. Another demonstration shows how water filters through untilled and tilled soil.
“Soils want to hold water and they want to filtrate,” he explains. "We have an infiltration problem. Runoff is a symptom of poor soil function. Right now, we're not emulating nature. We're forcing it. We're tilling it. We're diminishing the diversity of the soil. And water runs off. Nature is high diversity, low disturbance. Farming is high disturbance, low diversity."
“If you take care of the soil, it will provide the nutrients you need. If you focus on the soil, it means more money in the producer’s pocket."
Registration with coffee and rolls opens at 7:30
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