Welcome to another great episode of Tractor Time. We’re coming off a high from our 42nd annual Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio, and wanted to use this podcast to help us celebrate the highlights.

There were many. They included the 1,100 people who attended from 15 different countries, who gathered to hear diverse and interesting viewpoints on ecology and agriculture. Not only did we learn about the finer points of soil nutrition, micronutrients, microbiology, micro fungi, but we also learned about the larger picture, and how ecologically based agricultural practices can benefit all of our global systems, from climate change to world peace.

If that’s a lot to get your head around, we feel you. Many of our conferencegoers came up to us and asked, “Now what?” They left feeling empowered and knowledgeable and motivated.

And that’s what made our plenary panel stand out, and why we are going to feature it on this podcast. On Friday morning, we were lucky to have Acres U.S.A.’s Fred Walters lead a discussion between Dr. Vandana Shiva, a peace and food health advocate who came all the way from India, and André Leu, president of IFOAM, who came from Australia, and Ronnie Cummings, founder of the Organic Consumers Association, an international group focused on real change in our food supply.

Each took 20 minutes to discuss their take on what is happening in agriculture, in the organic and sustainability movements, and why they remain so positive despite all the challenges and hurdles we have to overcome. I can’t wait for you to hear from our panel, and will let you get right to it.

One side note before we begin: you can find free video of this event at www.acresusa.com, and you can also order or purchase audio any of our other classes to help your eco-education. 

Anyway, this is our last podcast of 2017, and we wanted to also say thanks for a great year, and here’s to an even better 2018.

Learn more at www.acresusa.com.



More Episodes

Tractor Time Episode 12: Edwin Blosser, Farmer & Founder of Midwest Bio-Systems

November 3, 2017

It’s Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres USA, the Voice of Eco Agriculture. This was recorded on Nov. 2, 2017, in Greeley, Colorado.

We’re going deep into eco-agriculture this hour. This episode's guest is Edwin Blosser, a longtime instructor in the art of crafting and utilizing high-quality compost in production-scale agriculture. He’ll talk about specific compounds in compost to build, advise about cover crops, and help us connect the dots between profitability and soil structure.

But first, I thought I’d share a story. Earlier this week, I got a call from Ulrich Scheyer. For those who don’t know, he’s one of the original advisors to Acres USA, attended our conference early in our history, and now lives in France and leads a team of researchers looking at biodynamics. We’ll share that research at some point once we review it. 

His quote, which is really what I wanted to share, has been my beacon of motivation this week. And a lot of you might benefit. Before hanging up, he told me: “There are a lot of cracks showing in conventional agriculture that my generation helped create, but now the real work begins. Find those cracks. And plant as many of your Acres USA trees in them as you can.”

Plant as many of our Acres USA trees as we can. And that’s what we try to do every day, but we need help. And that brings us back to today’s guest, Edwin Blosser, who never hesitates to teach, share or explain the tactics that has made him successful.

The company he founded, Midwest Bio-Systems, provides compost windrow turners and other equipment, as well as the knowledge needed to economically implement sustainable, organic growing practices. His goal is for farmers to consistently product high-value, highly humified compost. You can learn more at www.midwestbiosystems.com.


Tractor Time Episode 11: John Kempf, Founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture

October 25, 2017

Tractor Time is back, after harvest, to get back into the swing of recording and broadcasting interviews with your favorite people in sustainable agriculture. And we’re coming back with some thunder. Our guest today is a good friend of Acres USA. John Kempf is the founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a crop consulting company, and is an expert in the field of biological and regenerative farming. A resident of Middlefield, Ohio, Kempf is a farmer who grew up in and remains a part of the Amish community.

John has always sought alternative approaches to prevent damage to crops, and will be leading a two-day class on biological agriculture in December at the 2017 Acres USA Eco-Ag Conference and Trade Show. His class is our most popular so far, in fact, and is filling up fast.

Learn more about us at www.acresusa.com.


Tractor Time Episode 10: Mark Shepard and Water Control on the Farm

August 24, 2017


In this week’s podcast, we are featuring Mark Shepard's talk from the 2016 Eco-Ag annual conference in Omaha, Nebraska, where he spoke to a very full hall on his sustainable water practices he uses on his farms. It’s also the subject of his new book that we will be releasing later this fall, so stay tuned for that. It’s under production as we speak.

What follows this is Mark’s speech, which lasts just a little more than an hour. We hope you enjoy his talk, and the discussion that occurred between him and the audience last year in Omaha.

Mark Shepard is one of Acres USA’s newest authors, whose book, Restoration Agriculture, is No. 1 on our bestselling list. Talk about getting off to a good start. Part of it is the way he deftly explains proven practices on how to holistically repair damaged and broken farmland, something he’s done on his own property.

Part of it is the way Mark advocates for the practices and methods that he has developed. He speaks and works with farmers around the country, so speaking in front of our audience is just second nature.

Learn more at www.acreusa.com, and at www.ecofarmingdaily.com.


Tractor Time Episode 9: Ben Hartman on How to Make a Living on One Acre

August 3, 2017

In this week's podcast, we’re going all the way back to last year’s Acres USA Eco-Ag Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. There, an author-farmer named Ben Hartman spoke for more than an hour about a little miracle he and his wife, Rachel Hershberger, created in southern Michigan. On The Lean Farm, also the title of his book, Ben and his family connected with local restaurants in Chicago and the southern Michigan area to create a sustainable, profitable farming venture on less than one acre of land.

His talk last year at our conference was educational, inspiring, and one worth sharing. For those who want to attend our conference in Columbus, Ohio, from Dec. 5-8 this year and talk with hundreds of farmers and experts, including last week’s guest Andre Leu, you can learn more at www.acresusa.com, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, subscribe to our monthly magazine.

Learn more about Ben Hartman at http://claybottomfarm.com, or by buying his book at www.acresusa.com/the-lean-farm.


Tractor Time Episode 8: Andre Leu, Author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides

July 21, 2017

In the Acres USA world, Andre Leu is becoming much more than a household name. Leu, who has written for our magazine for years, published The Myth of Safe Pesticides in 2014. He has spoken on the dangers of pesticides for years several times at our annual conference, and will join us again this year.

Leu is currently the president of IFOAM – Organics International, and has more than 40 yeas of international experience in all areas of organic agriculture. He has been one of those human advocates, one of those forces of nature, that are pushing the agriculture movement into healthier directions. We spoke with Andre Leu on Thursday, July 20, from his office in Queensland, Australia.

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh.

To learn more about Acres USA, visit www.acresusa.com or www.ecofarmingdaily.com.


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

June 8, 2017

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.

But we are not really talking about rocks. We are talking about geology. And even more so, geology-micro biology, 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.


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

May 25, 2017

We know how busy farmers are this time of year, so we feel especially lucky to have our guest on today’s 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. 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.


Tractor Time Episode 5: Jerry Brunetti and Soil as a SuperOrganism

May 18, 2017

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.”

We hope you enjoy it.  

Introduction by Ryan Slabaugh.

Learn more at www.ecofarmingdaily.com or www.acresusa.com.



Tractor Time Episode 4: Susan Sink and the American Farmland Trust

May 8, 2017

In this week's episode, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Susan Sink, vice president of development and external relations at American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit organization who collaborates with farmers around the world to help save farmland from development, among many other things. 

Susan and the team are based in Washington D.C., and work with policymakers as well to craft major legislation like the Farm Bill, which affects almost every farmer in the country. She and her cohorts travel around and talk with farmers, both conventional and organic, and see how different environments — both political and geographic — affect the agriculture industry across the country.

Susan is also a farmer who has diversified her cattle farm in hopes of finding a way to keep her farm going in a very challenging environment for cattle farmers. She speaks to her own experience, and provides words of wisdom and hope that every farmer out there can hear and appreciate.

Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh.