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Tractor Time Podcast Episode 7: John Slack and Soils from a Geological Perspective

This week, we’re dipping into the archives back to 2005. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and YouTube was founded, and in 2005, John Slack also took the stage at our Eco-Ag conference and spoke about rocks.

John Slack.

But we are not really talking about rocks. We are talking about geology. And even more so, geology-microbiology, or as Slack puts it, “Bugs eating rocks.”

The basis of all this, and why it’s interesting to us and other eco-farmers: the industrial chemical revolution that occurred after World War II caused scientists, or geologists, or just rock fanatics, to pause in their research in regards to agriculture. Yet a few passionate folks, like John, continued. They avoided the noise of short cuts and pollution and learned how many living things manipulate rocks to get the nutrients they require.

John Slack does not call himself a geologist or a farmer. He calls himself a prospector. “We went out and looked for calcium,” he says in his talk. He talks about what he looks for when he walks the fields and digs his hands into the soil, to see what plants are reacting to those minerals.

John Slack is a fourth-generation miner who worked throughout northern Canada in the search of economic mineral deposits from 1979 through 1992. This entailed extensive stream sediment, soil geochemistry, geological mapping, compilations, mine development and mine management. This experience would result in employing these techniques in the evaluation of agricultural landscapes. In 1992 Slack left the mining industry and started farming on the family’s 330-acre property, Golden Innisfree Farms, located in Erin Township, Ontario. The farm was a grass-based cow-calf operation. Today the farm comprises organic vegetable production and a grass-based sheep dairy. Slack and his father started to evaluate and experiment with agrominerals. Commonly referred to as rock powder and rock dust, this research resulted in developing the Spanish River Carbonatite Complex, a unique igneous (magmatic) calcium carbonate deposit. Slack commenced soil auditing services that resulted in introducing soil evaluation methodologies, commonly employed in mineral exploration, to farm clients.

We’re proud and happy to share that talk from 2005 with you this week. It’s still as relevant, and shrouded by short cuts and industrial chemical fertilizer and pesticide propaganda, as ever.

If you like this talk, you can purchase other talks from John Slack at AcresUSA.com.

Also, find all of the Tractor Time podcasts here, or for free in the iTunes store.

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh.

Tractor Time Podcast Episode 6: Joel Salatin, the Most Famous Farmer in the World

Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin, courtesy of Polyface Farms.

We know how busy farmers are this time of year, so we feel especially lucky to have our guest on this show. He really needs no introduction, but we’ll give it a shot anyway.

Joel Salatin is known around most agricultural circles as the most famous farmer in the world and is the purveyor and owner of Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virginia. He calls himself a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer, which is a mouthful, both in words and in meaning.

More practically, he’s a successful author and speaker, has written dozens of pieces for Acres USA magazine through the years, has spoken at our Eco-Ag conferences, and through all that, we’ve learned that he is not afraid to be funny, educational, or to step into controversy when he needs to. But his belief in honoring the land and the animals is something we respect the most, and why we are glad to call him a friend.

He spoke to us about the challenges in the eco-agriculture movement growing around the world, and answers some questions about how ecology, agriculture and the food supply can work together. He also talked about how to create a truly “sustainable” farm.

“Unless you are generating two salaries from two different generations, you do not have a sustainable farm,” Salatin told us.

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh.

For those wanting to learn more, you can order books and DVDs by Joel Salatin from the Acres U.S.A. bookstore. You can also register for the 2017 Polyface Intensive Seminars here.

You can download and listen to previous episodes of Tractor Time here, or on iTunes.

Tractor Time Podcast 5: Jerry Brunetti on ‘Soil as a SuperOrganism’

Jerry Brunetti.

On this week’s podcast,we thought it’d be good to turn back the clock to a talk from 2009 at our Eco-Ag conference. Jerry Brunetti, rest in peace, was a fearless advocate for soil management and gave a presentation then called “Soil as a SuperOrganism.” In other words, a super computer built to process everything efficiently and create answers for us that are accurate.

“There is life in rock. There is life that comes out of everything,” he says in this talk. We like that so much, we want to share it with you today. We wish Jerry could still be here today to speak to us in person. We’ll settle for the best that we’ve got — his talk, “Soil as a SuperOrganism.”

Find our entire free podcast series available here, and in the iTunes store. Also, you can purchase Jerry Brunetti’s official presentation at the 2009 Eco-Ag conference here, or purchase his book from Acres USA.

Tractor Time Podcast Episode 3: Charles Walters and ‘A Return to Intellectualism’

Charles Walters in his Acres U.S.A. office.

Charles Walters in his Acres U.S.A. office.

As Charles Walters, founder of Acres U.S.A., said in his talk that will follow, if he had asked his father in 1945: “Are you an organic farmer, he would have said “What’s that?” In less than a century, we’ve come far enough to forget how we have farmed for centuries. And how new the introduction of industrial pesticides and herbicides is for farming, and how little we truly know about the massive effect it’s had on our health, on our environment and on our food supply.

Anyway, in the talk that will follow, Charles Walters spoke to this point with the help of Lee Fryer, and a few farmers in the audience. He will tell you that even today, the effort to, as he put it, “to liberate the organic farmers,” goes on. With truth on our side. That the challenge now is to return the burden of proof to the conventional agriculture systems, to those who want to coat our foods with poison, to prove that it is as safe as organic farming, and not the other way around.

Introduction by Ryan Slabaugh.

Listen to and download the first three episodes here.

Tractor Time Podcast Episode 2: Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin

Regi-Grey-MSP-Portrait-2016-1On this week’s Tractor Time podcast, we interviewed author and regenerative agriculture guru Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin. His story is not only inspirational, but transcends genres.

His book, “In the Shadow of Green Man,” documents this. It speaks to growing up in poverty, through civil war, learning from his father, moving to Minnesota, graduating from school and leading an organization focused on regenerative models of agriculture.

“Knowledge without wisdom is a more dangerous weapon than the most dangerous weapons we use in wars,” Haslett-Marroquin said in the podcast. “Why? They are the silent killers.”

You can learn more about his work by ordering his book, or by visiting www.mainstreetproject.org. A video is below that also documents their work.

Tractor Time is a weekly podcast from Acres U.S.A., the voice of Eco-Agriculture. Listen to Episode 1, featuring Abbey Smith with The Savory Institute and an archival talk from Charles Walters, here.

Acres U.S.A. Podcast Episode 1: Abbey Smith and Charles Walters

Abbey Smith, global network coordinator for the Savory Institute.

Abbey Smith, global network coordinator for the Savory Institute.

 

In Episode 1, we interview Abbey Smith with the Savory Institute and ask her about her life as a teacher, rancher and world traveler. She’s spent years studying and practicing holistic grazing methods, and is trying to help the Savory Institute reach their goals of creating and protecting 1 billion hectares of sustainable grazing land around the world.

Then, we turn back the clock and present a talk from Acres U.S.A. founder Charles Walters. He details the challenges facing eco-farmers, which is still applicable today, and how those challenges increase in the face of the popularity of conventional farming.

Enjoy. If you have feedback or ideas, please email us at podcast@acresusa.com.