Plant & Grow Rich:
The nitty-gritty secrets of soil fertility
Did you miss Chapter 3? Click below to catch up:
Want to start from the beginning? Click below for Chapter 1:
At the end of Chapter 3, we learned how & why animals are essential for the soil biology that drives the fertility and productivity of your fields. When you plant your cover crop, remember:
"One third for critters above ground and two thirds for those below ground." - Gabe Brown
Read on for the nitty-gritty secrets that revolutionize your soil fertility. Gabe Brown's "Principles of Nature" revealed...
Plant into cover crop residue
Don't Disturb Your Armor
"We had a soil analysis done that measured 10 lbs of Nitrogen in 2 feet of soil – generally accepted as very poor for corn. We proceeded with strictly no-till practices (no trash whippers or row markers – way too much tillage)."
"We planted May 15 with no cultivating. By July1 the soil residue was rapidly decomposing and disappearing from the soil surface. At tasseling time Ward Labs measured the corn leaf nutrients. All nutrients tested were sufficient or above. No additives or amendments of any kind had been applied. Where did the nutrients come from?" - Gabe Brown
By the end of the growing season, all of Gabe's original armored soil cover had been consumed, leaving the new crop residue.
The county average was just under 100 bushels of corn/acre. Gabe got 142 bushels/acre with no fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides etc. - nothing added of any kind.
Cost to produce and market the corn crop was $1.44/bushel. He made good money even at today's corn price. Gabe does not take part in any government program- no crop insurance- no government welfare. He does not want to be encumbered by government programs.
He can produce more at lower cost with nature's production model.
"The soil is alive if our management allows it to be. We have to look at healthy ecosystems and what the soil needs rather than what the plant needs." -Gabe Brown
Soil Without Biology is Geology
Gabe's soil analysis showed only 10 lbs of Nitrogen in 2 ft of soil - poor conditions for growing corn. But at tasseling time Ward Labs tested his leaf nutrients and found sufficient or better nutrient levels. He used no additives or amendments of any kind.
Where did the nutrients come from?
The reason the soil test did not work was that it only took into account the physical and chemical properties and not the biological properties.
There is a new test that includes soil biology: The Haney Test
This new biological soil test will revolutionize soil testing. Discover the microbial activity and potential in your native soil:
More labs are doing the Haney Test. Send in your soil sample. It costs $50.00 and shows you how much you can start cutting back on costly synthetics.
Learn more about the Haney Test: https://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/past_speeches/2013_Speeches/Haney.pdf
Stop Writing Checks for NPK
Other ranchers repeatedly warned Gabe that he was going to run out of Potassium (K), Phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N).
His response is simple:
"Nitrogen is a no-brainer – above every acre of land there is about 34,000 tons of atmospheric nitrogen. Why write a check for Nitrogen when it's free by planting legumes? Animals add organic Potassium and Phosphorus that plants can assimilate in natural biological cycles. Much more fun not having to write checks for NPK."
Gabe claims this method of production agriculture will work anywhere in the world. Visitors to Gabe's ranch come from 50 states and 16 foreign countries to study his techniques.
"This is simply the model that nature provided. People are doing it successfully all over." - Gabe Brown
Which model will put more dollars in your pocket? Conventional Big Ag or Gabe's (nature's) model?
Natural or Synthetic?
Conventional farmed soil typically has 1% organic matter and $751 worth of NPKS per acre.
Gabe's soil with 5% organic matter has $3700 of NPKS per acre.
Previously Gabe had to go to the bank every year to finance his operation. Gabe tried to get the banker to put the $3700/acre of NPKS on Gabe's balance sheet. The banker refused.
Gabe has become so successful with nature's model that he now finances the entire operation himself.
Gabe has no use for bankers.
The Carbon Gospel
At over 5% organic matter, Gabe's soil can hold 20 inches of water in a 4 foot soil profile. His local climate averages 15 inches of moisture a year - he can hold all the yearly precipitation in his soil.
Gabe's operation today holds over 810 million gallons of water in soil. Regardless of the scale of your operation, from small garden to large ranch, the water-holding capacity of your soil is up to you.
The Carbon Gospel
"Soil carbon is the key driver for the nutritional status of plants- and therefore the mineral density in animals and people.
"Soil carbon is the key driver for soil moisture holding capacity which is frequently the most limiting factor for production.
"Soil carbon is the key driver for farm profit!"
"On any farm you go on. All living things are based on carbon. We have to start thinking in terms of carbon on our operations." - Gabe Brown
NEXT: Plant & Grow Rich Chapter 5
Click above to read Chapter 5. Discover the productivity & profit of no-till potatoes, the no-till vegetable garden, the Egg-Mobile and more...
Grow your own organic, non-GMO corn. Heirloom seed available from our family now: