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