Dr. Mercola Explores Cover Crops at Gabe Brown's Farm

hi dr. Mercola in Bismarck North Dakota with regenerative agriculture pioneer Gabe brown and we're here in one of his paddock fields where he's raising a cash crop and he's gonna enlighten us as to what the process is all about one of the problems I think we have in production agriculture today is that we've gone to all monocultures you know we grow corn or we grow wheat or we grow soybeans but you look in nature monocultures don't occur in nature it's always diversity so what I have here is one of my attempts on how do I get diversity into a cash crop system so growing in this particular field there's barley oats field peas lentils and I'm missing one flax that's the other one so I have five different cash crops growing at the same time what that allows me some years then one will outperform the other but I can combine this and it's a diverse mix now you would be able to separate those out if you wanted but what we're going to do with them is this is going to be feed for our hogs and for our land hands so we're producing a mixed balanced diet rations so to speak for them and most all other producers of organic pastured poultry are not doing you're one of the only ones that may be the only one at this time who's actually growing the grain that they feed those in this that's correct we're trying to close the loop so to speak we're trying to produce all the feed plus all the animals are born and raised on our operations so we want that closed loop that way we can tell our customers beyond a doubt that when that animal was born how it was raised what it had to eat and we're doing the best job we can to ensure that they're getting a nutrient-dense product and then who wants this these crops mature and you harvest them what what's the process everything yeah as soon as these crops are harvested within the next couple of days after that we'll be in here seeding another cash crop okay this crop will be put in a bin and used as feed throughout year but then there will be a cover crop excuse me growing will follow this cash crop with the cover crop a lot of people think in our northern environment oh you can't do that the cast the cover crops only going to grow a couple inches tall and it's not worth the time or money what they don't realize is how soil is formed take sunlight in a living plant you have to have something growing as long as possible throughout the year that's why all of our cropland acres will have not only a cash crop but a cover crop growing on them every year we're gonna try and ensure there's a living root in the ground at all times to feed that biology plus that plant with leaves to collect sunlight and how long does it take for the plants to mature to the point of harvesting yeah this particular cash crop was seeded about April 15th and we'll be combining it here in early August sometimes it'll be ready to go now look at what we're doing also in these different species themselves that the five species we have growing here we have legumes and grasses well the Legum is here for a reason above every acre of land there's approximately 32,000 tons of atmospheric nitrogen I can't understand why any farmer would write a check for nitrogen synthetic nitrogen when all they have to do is grow legumes those legumes and through the rhizobia and their roots can take that atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into forms used by the plants in turn then the legumes in this case the field Peas and the lentils are the rhizobia are fixing that nitrogen the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil is transferring that nitrogen to the barley and oats in turn the barley and the old crops are up bringing phosphorus the mycorrhizal fungi is taking that phosphorus feeding it to the lichens that's how nature functions that's why we need diversity unfortunately the production model today is not allowing that to take place and then at the same time you're building soil rather than destroying yeah we're growing topsoil you often hear soil scientists say oh it takes 500 years to grow an inch of topsoil that's totally false we can accelerate that we can grow inches of topsoil in a decade if we use the proper follow nature as the template not just any soil but soil with high organic content that's that's correct that's correct and your what's the average of your yeah the average organic matter on our operation is in the six to eight percent range yeah on our on our perennial pastures we're well over eight percent yeah it's about as good as it gets right well I I asked soil scientists I said to their best estimate pre-european settlement what was the organic matter levels in this area and they said seven to eight percent so we're getting there I think we have a long way to go and I think we can go above and beyond that yeah what do you apply these principles yep and so often in production agriculture today all you hear is yield yield yield yield is everything but I never hear I'm talking about profit and I never hear I'm talking about what it's doing for the soils for the next generation you know I could be in a conventional mindset tilling the soil doing monocultures I could live with that but the question I have is can my children and grandchildren live with that no no and then you look at the human health crisis we're having in this country the nutrient densities of the products were producing has decreased anywhere from 15 to 65 percent in the last 50 years I think a large part of that is due to the decimation of our soil and that we don't have healthy soil that's functioning properly and supplying those nutrients to the plants if we can do that get a healthy functioning soil ecosystem we're gonna it's going to be able to positively affect human health also


  1. What is going on? I need to know.

    Great information. It makes sense. As I have always wondered when i pull palnts out of the ground I feel I'm destroying the worms habitat. Keep something growing even weeds is better than nothing. The soil always looks better when it has something growing on it at all times.


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