Sustainable Ag Research

The Problem
According to this article from Scientific American there is; Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues  Already some regions of the World are beginning to collapse for this reason. How climate change and failed agricultural policies have contributed to conflict in Syria It's easy to think this is only a regional problem, but the evidence says otherwise. This is our future too, if something is not done to reverse the trends worldwide. Land Degradation: An overview

The Solution
Regenerative agriculture

The Red Baron Project 
I am in research and development phase of an organic production model using Permaculture principles that are scale-able to any size Garden or Farm. 

This research is self funded and the results will be available free for all. I would also ask humbly that anyone else interested in helping to try it out even in a small test plot themselves. The small scale I have been working on 5 years has had better than expected results. I am confident any gardener could use them.
The Red Baron Project

The next step is proof of concept for commercial scale.

For my project I am using various principles:

Principle 1: No till and/or minimal till with mulches used for weed control
Principle 2: Minimal external inputs
Principle 3: Living mulches to maintain biodiversity
Principle 4: Companion planting
Principle 5: The ability to integrate carefully controlled modern animal husbandry (optional)
Principle 6: Capability to be mechanized for large scale or low labor for smaller scale
Principle 7: As organic as possible, while maintaining flexibility to allow non-organic growers to use the methods
Principle 8: Portable and flexible enough to be used on a wide variety of crops in many areas of the world
Principle 9: Sustainable ie. beneficial to the ecology and wildlife
Principle 10: Profitable ie. Must yield higher net profits than industrial high input Ag with all its synthetic fertilizers and pesticides to compete successfully.

"When farmers view soil health not as an abstract virtue, but as a real asset, it revolutionizes the way they farm and radically reduces their dependence on inputs to produce food and fiber." -USDA

The next step in my research and development is proof of scale-ability using mechanization of much of the labor costs.

I wish to prove the early results using my own hand labor can be replicated on the smallest mechanized scale. This will involve a few minor repairs and modifications to a tractor, purchase of a very small no till planter, clearing of a few acres of abandoned farmland overgrown with invasive scrub, and first year's seed and mulch. Any overage on my gofundme account will be put to good use in additional equipment, seedling greenhouses etc... Any profits will be reinvested for this purpose as well. I have also applied for using this project as a demonstration farm as part of the Oklahoma Carbon Project . This gofundme is just for the initial startup, plus documentation of soil regeneration by soil testing.

When mechanization is proved, then there should be no hurdles using this by the largest commercial farmers and everyone inbetween. Just increase the acreage and tractor/equipment size.

At that point I can start an apprenticeship and
internship program for young future farmers and spread the word as well as hold demonstrations for the locals here.

I’ve heard a few experienced farmers complain in the past that there are no young families in farming anymore, but many landowners are not willing to work with their own family members or another local young family or group of families who would like to get into farming or expand their operations.

This is all food for thought as we ponder the future of our farms and our rural communities a generation or two down the road.

Who do you think will be farming the land in the next decade or two in your part of the world?

Where are the Future Farmers to Grow Our Food?

So this is a critical step in improving the quality of our food supply while regenerating our degraded agricultural soils. It is also the step where most horticultural methods break down ie. attempting to scale up. So I can't guarantee results. All I can say is that the upside is huge should it work. It would benefit rural economies, ecology and wildlife, water supply and cycles, public health, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

If you really want to change the world, this is your chance to invest in the science behind the very foundation of all civilization, agriculture.

Special thanks to Joel Salatin for inspiring me to take on this project.

"I can think of few projects as important as mitigating the carbon depletion from tillage systems. The world is crying out for methodology that offers vegetable growers the same opportunities as tightly managed perennial grassland operations. Incorporating both mulching and no-till is a great symbiotic concept and it would be a real credibility plum to be able to show efficacy at scale. I fully endorse this project and hope it yields more data in the soil carbon sequestering sphere."

Joel Salatin
The Stockman Grass Farmer


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Scott Strough 
Oklahoma City, OK
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