Connecting the Dots


When we were kids we connected the dots of a puzzle to reveal a picture. There are many more dots than covered here but my attempt is to give a general outline of our present condition in agriculture and solutions to our wrong headed thinking.
The sun formed and began shinning approximately five billion years past. According to people who study such we have about five billion years left of our heat producing life giving sun to shine, then it flares up scorching the earth to a cinder and dies leaving the earth a dark cold cinder. This I don’t find too refreshing.
No arguments here please, this is my opinion, you are very welcome to yours. I find the Bible to be a very instructive and useful book. Jesus taught in parables. The story of Adam and Eve I believe as Jared Diamond stated in Guns, Germs and Steel”, to be a parable for mankind taking up agriculture. I believe women were the first agrarians. This occurred about 10 thousand years ago. Until the taking up of agriculture, we were hunters and gathers and again folks who study such say it took about three hours per day to provide mankind all their needs. The trouble was some days weather did not permit and mankind starved. Agriculture gave a constant food and substance supply and allowed for society to develop and presto here we are today politicians, lawyers and all.
Now let us create some dots.
Dot 1 we are the most overfed and under nourished population to ever inhabit the earth.
Dot 2 we are this way because our food lacks the nutrients we need for good health and long lives.
Dot 3 our food lacks these nutrients because (a) they have been leached out of the soil (b) our farming and ranching practices have weakened or destroyed the microbial life in the soil.
Dot 4 Nature abhors bare ground. Why?
Dot 5 Bare soil versus soil with plant cover will be 10-20 degrees warmer on a hot summer day and 5-10 degrees cooler on a cold night.
Dot 6 this heat and cold kills soil microbes and or drives them deep into the earth, especially the earthworms and evaporation of moisture increases exponentially.
Dot 7 Bare soil erodes and compacts and absorbs much less water than soil with adequate plant growth and/or plant litter.
Dot 8 Commercial fertilizer (a) weakens and/or kills the soil microbes (b) attempts to feed the plant imbalanced and possibly toxic nutrition.
Dot 9 Tillage of the soil weakens or destroys the mycorrhiza, this interferes with the plants ability to pick up nutrients from the soil.
What can we do to live longer healthier lives? Some explanation first.
Dot 10 Soil was and is forming by volcanic eruptions, grinding of rock by glacier movement, weathering (freeze, thaw, and wind) and by fungal digestion of rock.
Dot 11 Liken growing on rock is composed of 2 parts, fungal and algae. The fungal portion digests the rock to secure minerals but the fungus lacking chlorophyll cannot undergo photosynthesis – i.e. it cannot produce sugars. The algae portion is green, has chlorophyll and by the process of photosynthesis produces sugars which it trades to the fungal portion for minerals. Thus, each part fungal and algae having formed a symbiotic relationship make up liken.
Dot 12 this symbiotic relationship has gone on millions if not billions of years, building humus in the soil. The plants through photosynthesis produce sugar and the bacteria and fungal growth in the soil mine the nutrients (minerals) and trade for sugar.
Dot 13 anything we do that interferes with this symbiotic relationship lessens the nutrient content of the food we consume.
Dot 14 application of commercial fertilizers interferes with the balance of this relationship as does tillage of any sort.
Dot 15 Ruminant animals also have a symbiotic relationship with the plants.
Dot 16 Mankind has destroyed millions of acres of productive grazing land by over grazing and under stocking these animals.
Dot 17 One cow on five acres grazing all season will kill thousands of plants, but one thousand cows on the same five acres for one day will not kill a single plant.
Dot 18 Ruminant animals, plants and soil organisms all develop together in one large symbiotic relationship.
Dot 19 how do the ruminant animals fit in this symbiotic relationship? (a) when plants grow they take CO2 from their surroundings and use the carbon through the photosynthesis in the production of sugar, starches, cellulose and plant structure. (b) when the plant climaxes (seed production completed) the plant becomes dormant or dies and in the end plants like animals all die. This dead plant composed mostly of carbon then slowly oxidizes (burns) releasing the carbon in the form of CO2 back into the atmosphere. (c) the dead or dying plant shades the ground inhibiting future plant growth leading to bare ground. (d) the ruminant animals in huge herds consume one third to one half of the plant and trample the remainder to the earth leaving it as a food source for the soil micro flora. The ruminants also spread feces, urine, hair and saliva and trample these into the soil adding more and diverse micro flora and nutrients to the soil.
Dot 20 the farmer and rancher is paid for bushels and pounds, not for the nutrient content of what they produce.
Dot 21 our processing and preparations of food we eat removes or destroy many of the vitamins, minerals and proteins. The same applies to much of the food processed for our livestock and pets.
Dot 22 in our farming we have tried to bypass the microbes in the soil and feed the plants directly with man-made fertilizers thus producing inferior nutrient deficient disease susceptible crops.
Dot 23 with our livestock (a) by over grazing and under stocking using continuous grazing we have and are destroying the land leading to desertification. (b) fattening sometimes called finishing our livestock in feed yards we are like in the plants trying to bypass the micro flora in the ruminant to produce protein. (c) we have and are selecting genetics to marble the meat (scatter fat in the meat). Meat from grass finished ruminants contain the correct ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids, more 3 and much less 6. Grain fed animals contain much more 6 and less 3, thus we have taken beef, a perfect source of protein, altered it by via nutrition to a very imperfect source of protein.
Dot 24 we crave salt, fat and sugar in our diets. Food processors know this and add one or all to our food. Don’t blame them the more they add, the more we buy.
What a mess! Again, what can we do? The following is my opinion, my answer.
Dot 25 first for the farmer who tills the soil. 1. STOP TILLAGE 2. Learn how to use and apply COVER CROPS. Stopping tillage decreases costs, stops destruction of the mycorrhiza and micro flora. Cover crops feeds the soil organisms, conserves moisture, inhibits weeds, stops erosion from wind and rain, destroys hard pan, enhances the water cycle, improves structure and the most important and true secret of the soil increases the glomalin content (glomalin is the glue that holds the soil, gives it the good crumbly feel, it is produced by the mycorrhiza)
If you the farmer continue producing as you are, you will go broke.
Dot 26 for the rancher, grazing a small acreage to a vast range lands. 1. You must graze like nature did. Large numbers of ruminants (in our area 100,000 to 200,000 pounds per acre) on a small acreage for a short period of time (never over 2 days, 12 hours or less preferable) coupled with a long rest period (in our area 30-60 days). We call it mob grazing. If you the rancher continue producing as you are, you too will go broke.
Dot 27 the food processor must learn the less is best lesson. The less processed the more nutritious. Whole foods did not select that name by chance; you need to learn to buy the products you process based on the nutrient content, not just the pounds and bushels.
Dot 28 we the consumer must learn to eat as close to nature as possible. Fresh is best if not fresh then frozen and last choice, canned. Cook as lightly as possible, only enough to make the food safe. The doctors on the 60 Minutes News program wanted sugars to be declared a toxic substance. I agree, if you like me have a veracious sweet tooth try molasses (not syrup) or honey.
In agriculture, if you find one way superior to another you can rest assured that is nature’s way. Food as produced, processed, distributed, marketed and prepared today provides us with excess calories (starches, sugars and fats) and deficiencies of balanced proteins, vitamins and minerals.
Most everything I have written above has come from research or experience. A recommended reading list is attached. What I conclude with is again my opinion and in this case mine only.
The soil is not as deficient as it may seem. Our management of it and thus food production is what has caused our problems. We have blocked and in some cases destroyed the symbiotic relationships that exist in nature. I believe the micro flora, mainly the fungal part, are the only organisms that can process minerals correctly and provide them for the plant in a form the plant can use. The plant then manufactures and provides the vitamins, minerals, balanced protein and energy to our livestock and us.
We can consume vitamins, minerals and protein supplements, a few of these we can assimilate and use, most we cannot. Many nutrients we need provided by the micro flora from the soil to the plant for us we probably don’t know exist or that we need them. All healthy life begins with healthy functioning microbial in the soil.
An old fellow told me when I was a young man that when you think you understand how something in nature works you probably know just enough to be dangerous. The late and in my opinion great William A. Albrecht, PHD said “ Iodine as a fraction of a grain coming from the soil up through the plant to us is all that stands between us and imbecility.”
I have come to the conclusion after practicing food animal Veterinary Medicine for 30 plus years, there is no such thing as disease, there are only deficiencies and or toxicities. All life created by our Creator through evolution is symbiotic, that is works for the good of all. If we, mankind, go against the symbioses we will as a species die out.
We in agriculture must chose to change or die from war and/or starvation.


Recommended Videos

Undercover Farmers – Feature Length, USDA NRCS East National Technology Support Center
How to Fight the Desertification and Reverse Climate Change By Allan Savory at TED2013

Recommended Reading List


Holistic Resource Management by Allan Savory
Grass Productivity by Andre’ Voisin
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS
Pottenger’s Cats by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. M.D.
Minerals for the Genetic Code by Charles Walters
Sea Energy Agriculture by Maynard Murray, M.D.
The Biochar Solution by Albert Bates
Albrecht’s Enduring Vision by William A, Albrecht, Ph. D
Pfeiffer’s Introduction to Biodynamics by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer
Quality Pasture by Allan Nation
The Rodale Book of Composting
Eco-Farm by Charles Walters
The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird
Secrets of the Soil by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird
Comeback Farms by Greg Judy
Fletcher Sims Compost by Charles Walters
The Bible
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
1491 and 1493 by Charles Mann
The Furrow Magazine Special Issue: Building Better Soils, February 2013