Soil health expert wants farmers to mimic nature, not control it

A leader in regenerative agriculture wants farmers to mimic nature instead of trying to control it. 

Ray Archuleta is a professional soil scientist who spent more than 30 years working for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.  He tells Brownfield modern agriculture has been built on the wrong premise.

“It should’ve always been ‘how do we emulate nature? How do we mimic it? How do we work with it? How do we synergize (and) have relationship with it?’ What I was taught in college (was) ‘how do we force it? How to control it. How do we control the chemicals? Yield, yield, yield. That’s what I was taught. And we were going broke, broke, broke.”

He says mimicking nature helps improve the bottom line by weaning farmers from costly inputs like fertilizer and pesticides.

Archuleta calls soil the most complex and diverse ecosystem on the planet.

“It’s alive just like (we) are. Once the farmer understands that, they start to look at it differently (and) start to treat it differently. They’ll be very careful about their tillage (and) chemicals. It starts to change everything.”

Brownfield interviewed Archuleta during a field day near St. Ansgar in northcentral Iowa Thursday hosted by the Land Stewardship Project.

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