Clint Brauer, Co-Founder at Greenfield Robotics
Nebraska has lost seven inches of topsoil in the past 150 years. It takes 100-500 years to create one inch of topsoil. - NRCS
Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. -Bible (Mark 4)
Nothing comes from nothing. - Parmenides of Elea
If you love eating but have never been to a farm, here is how good soil grows food.
So soil erosion is a big problem. What is the solution?Enter regenerative agriculture, aka carbon farming. For broadacre cropland, the practice combines:
The results of regenerative agriculture are impressive and many fold. I’ve been implementing it on my family farm in Kansas. In this era of climate change, it has become critical to maintaining our topsoil. It does not eliminate erosion, but the reduction in soil erosion is massive.
Below is how it works.
Soil structure and residueBy not disturbing the soil, residue is left on the surface that breaks the fall of rainwater. This gives rainfall a better chance of soaking in; instead of bouncing off the soil’s surface tension and flowing into the closest river.
The roots left in the soil from the previous cash or cover crop provide space in the soil. Over time, the crop residue laying on top of the soil, degrades into the soil and provides feed for the microbiome below. This results in even more space being created through the resurgence of earthworms creating space in the soil and soil aggregates forming to create improved soil structure.
So when the flooding rains show up, all that space and improved soil structure can hold up to 5x the amount of water per cubic foot versus disturbed (tilled) soil.
This means in the flooding/drought cycles that are becoming more common due to climate change, crops have more moisture to access during drought and soil erosion sharply decreased.
It also means a massive decrease in water pollution.
The nutrients in the soil “stay put” instead of washing into streams, rivers and eventually, the Gulf of Mexico. This also keeps our drinking water cleaner.
The great news is no-till farming, which is part of the regenerative agriculture movement, comprises over 30% of US farmland and growing quickly.
The challenge with no-till farming and regenerative agriculture; it is currently reliant on chemicals. Cover crops help, but chemicals such as glyphosate, paraquat and 2-4D are still needed for weed control.
This is why we created Greenfield Robotics. We enable regenerative agriculture to scale, without chemicals.
Last year our robots maintained 25 acres of soybeans on my farm without any chemicals. This year we are working with 15 farms in Kansas to reduce herbicide chemicals in cotton, soybeans, corn and milo.
Our goal is to enable farmers to scale sustainably, with no chemicals AND sequester carbon in the soil. Our first line of robots enable corn and soy farmers to control weeds without tilling and without chemicals.
Stay tuned for more information.