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It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

Producer’s Story: Roberta McKowen

No matter what led you down the path to improving your soil’s health you need the guidance and support of a cadre of likeminded land stewards. Maybe you are concerned about the safety of your food supply or you want to leave the land better than you found it.

You have attended pasture walks, you listen to webinars and podcasts, YouTube videos, read several books on soil health and maybe you’ve been to a soil health conference. You may have EQIP or WIP contracts.

You’ve drunk the koolaide.

But the foresight, courage and vision to step out and farm in a new way does not happen in a vacuum. In order to persevere on this sometimes lonely path to restorative soil health practices, you need a tribe of likeminded mentors. PhDs, NRCS agents, Heavy Equipment and fertilizer salesmen can be useful source of information but its the honest, open vunerable relationships with mentor veteran farmers and ranchers (who may have PhDs or be NRCS agents) that are willing to share their experiences, mistakes and triumphs with a fellow farmer seeking to be more responsible stewards of the land that helps us to implement these sometimes radical management practices.

Gains in soil health and the subsequent improvements in animal and environmental productivity don’t happen suddenly. It may take three years before you see the needle move. You don’t get a rebate check from BigAg or a free trip to Las Vegas for applying less fertilizer or not preventing your bare naked field from baking in the sun for months.

I encourage you to seek out experienced producers and listen with your farming partners to their stories. It was the best thing we ever did during this 12 year ranching journey. We have been jealous, admiring, envious, inspired and enlightened during hours of conversations on bus tours and road trips to conferences.

Be honest with yourself. Ask yourslf and your partners just what it is that you want to accomplish with your land. Don’t be afraid to reassess your priorities.

It’s not want you know it’s who you know so you must have a very clear idea of your goals and those of all your stakeholders.

Good luck and see you at the next Pasture walk or Webinar.


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