High Mowing Organic Seeds “takes drought as a challenge to build more resilience”

And resilience, it turns out, means building the health of the soil via techniques also used in permaculture: no-till, composting and making sure the ground is always covered.

Check out this family’s 2.5 acre farm near Sebastopol, California, which both saves water and brings in $100,000 per acre! Also on facebook.

Oh, and BTW: if you don’t have 2.5 acres, but just have, say, your 1/4 acre yard, then check THIS out:

Permaculture Transforms a Small Space into a Food Forest.




“Just outside of Sebastopol, California, farmers Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser are surprising their neighbors. In the midst of California’s driest year on record, the Kaisers are increasing revenue on their two-and-a-half acres of cultivated bottomland while drastically reducing water consumption, an unlikely combination when the drought is driving farms elsewhere out of business.

Even in a historically unprecedented dry year, and in a region with an average of 30 inches of annual precipitation, the Kaisers are not daunted by the drought. Instead, they take it as a challenge to build drought resilience on their farm, where the precious groundwater they use to irrigate is just as tenuous as surface flows elsewhere. Whether through no-till, composting, or an intensive greenhouse schedule, the Kaiser’s resilience always comes back to the health of their soil.

After eight years of no-till production, composting, and keeping the ground covered, the Kaisers have measured their soil organic matter at a twelve-inch depth at 6.5% and at a six-inch depth an astounding 9.5%. That’s an increase of over four-fold from when the couple turned over their first row on this land. With every percent increase in SOM, the soil can hold upwards of twenty thousand gallons of water per acre….Paul explains, “When we started farming here […] I was typically running the irrigation system two to three hours every other day. And that was pretty standard. Now I am down to 45 minutes to an hour every five to seven days.” The Kaisers grow the same crops now as they did then.

Not only are the Kaisers saving water, they’re making more money doing it. Their high-intensity production pumps out over seven times the average volume of similar farms in California, pulling in around $100,000 an acre in sales and supporting four full-time staff.”

Learn more about the remarkable innovations farmers are using in the arid west in this new report from The National Young Farmers Coalition : http://www.youngfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/NYFC-template-FINAL_lowNew.pdf


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4 Responses to High Mowing Organic Seeds “takes drought as a challenge to build more resilience”

  1. It’s strange to hear no-till referred to as a permaculture technique. It’s widely embraced in conventional farming, and the importance it plays for building soil organic matter is well understood in conventional ag. The Roundup Ready (GE) crops are an integral part of conventional no-till. When a farmer takes tilling out of the toolbox s/he has to replace it with something else. Herbicides are one option.

    I watched a documentary recently titled Symphony of the Soil specifically because it featured the Kaisers and their farming methods. Unfortunately it did not delve deeply into them at all. It did however show a state-of-the-art crimper used in a no-till production system that Rodale Institute has developed. A quick search shows they have instructions on making one on their website.


    In an introductory course to organic farming I attended last spring through Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners, the instructor made mention of no-till but alluded to the difficulties in organic production that make it mostly nonviable for our area. He was also clear early in the course that with regards to soil health “there are also bad organic farmers and good conventional farmers”. Anytime I speak about farming I keep in mind that what’s common practice in my region may be completely impractical 300 miles north or south of here. I also keep in mind how easy it is to cherry pick the good organic farmers in order to compare them to the bad conventional farmers (and vice versa).

    Anyway, I was reading a post a few days ago on the future of farming that mentioned no-till. If you follow the link there are further sources including on on the history of no-till development.

    The transition to a minimum tillage regime can take several years and during that time there are some risks particularly during cold springs. No-till systems have been in commercial development since 1960.


  2. laurabruno says:

    Reblogged this on Laura Bruno's Blog and commented:
    More proof that the problem can be the solution!

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